Quashing reports that Covid-19’s new variant XE is 10 times more transmissible, the World Health Organization clarified that the recombinant, or a sub-variant of Omicron‘s sub-lineages BA.1 and BA.2, has “10 per cent transmissibility”.

“Based on the initial analysis of available sequences, there is a slight growth advantage of this recombinant over BA.2, about a 10 per cent increase in transmissibility. Not 10 times as has been reported by some. But we are analysing this with all available information and we continue to do so. There are thousands of professionals working around the world to understand what these changes mean,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, American infectious disease epidemiologist.

Notably, the Omicron variant has many sub-lineages BA. 1, BA. 2. Now, there is a re-combinant of both these called XE. “XE is being classified under Omicron,” she said in a video message on Twitter.

Stressing the need to take preventive steps and keep one’s guard up, she said “vaccinations remain critically important and incredibly effective at preventing severe disease and death”.

“The virus is still with us. It is circulating at a really intense level and we need to use all the tools available to us. These tools are vaccines, and more importantly, vaccination. We need to make sure that when it is your turn, you get vaccinated and you receive the full course of the doses. And we need to critically ensure that those around the world, particularly, those that are most vulnerable, people who are of older age, who have an underlying condition, and our frontline workers, get vaccinated in every single country,” she stated.

Special vaccination drive for students at a school in Navi Mumbai. (Express Photo by Narendra Vaskar)

According to her, one must also follow other measures like physical distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding crowded spaces, opening the windows and doors when inside, and staying home if unwell. “All of these tools continue to work against reducing the spread as well as prevent severe disease and death. But vaccinations remain critically important and incredibly effective at preventing severe disease and death. So, get vaccinated when it is your turn,” she added.

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