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Is The New Covid Strain Causing Concerns?

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Been hearing and reading about XE, XD and XF? These aren’t the names of an electronic gadget, rather, recombinants of Covid 19. BA.4, BA.5, the new names almost seem like an Algebra class and as is with Algebra, these too may be tricky to understand. If you are confused by these new acronyms and need to know which symptoms to watch out for, read ahead.

XE, XD and XF

The three variants are recombinants of Covid, in addition to the existing Delta and Omicron variants. A recombinant is a combination of the previously existing strains and can be produced either naturally or by genetically combining pieces of genetic material using DNA technology. These new strains share genetic material of variants like Delta and Omicron, which are both highly transmissible and deadly. Almost like “children” of the two experts and scientists around the world are carefully tracking the spread and symptoms of XE, XD and XF recombinants.

XE

The XE recombinant is an amalgamation of two Omicron variants – the BA.1 and the BA.2. As there are fewer cases of this variant, it is currently hard to determine vaccine effectiveness and the severity of XE. XE has the spike and structural proteins of the BA.2 strain and about ⅕ th of BA.1’s genome. Initial reports claim that XE has a growth advantage of about 10% over previous variants. At present, it is too soon to comment on this strain.

XD and XF

Not much is known about the XD and the XF recombinant variants at the moment. What is known is that XD and XF contains genes from the Delta and BA.1 Omicron variants. Currently present in Europe, XD is identified in Denmark, Belgium and France, while XF has been detected in the UK.

Symptoms of XE, XD and XF

While there is no clarity on the severity of the infectious rate of the three new recombinant variants, there are certain symptoms that you must watch out for. History of previous Covid-19 infections, vaccination status, antibodies and inherent immunity causes the symptoms to vary from person to person. However, some common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Body ache
  • Rashes and skin related problems
  • Nausea
  • Other digestive issues
  • Loss of smell and taste

Some severe symptoms may include:

  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Low oxygen levels (drop-in SpO2)
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Difficulty in breathing 

BA.4 and BA.5

The BA.4 and BA.5 are the two new sub lineages of the Omicron strain. These variants are causing some concerns as they are showing signs of immune escape mechanisms in previously infected people. 

There is limited research on the two variants. The BA.4 and BA.5 have significant “improvements” on the spike protein, over the BA.2 variant, making it a cause of concern. As there is not much information, it is too early to comment on the severity of these two variants with surety. 

At present, all Covid-19 vaccines are effective towards the existing strains.

Steps to take to mitigate the risks

As was with the previous strains, the same precautionary measures must be taken to protect yourself and your loved ones from Covid-19 and its variants. Some simple steps are:

  • Mask up, covering your nose and mouth properly
  • Sanitise or wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid large public gatherings
  •  distancing
  • Vaccination

Key takeaways

While there is not much information about these new Covid-19 variants and recombinants, we may further witness even different variants. It is important to understand that we all must take measures to reduce the spread of viruses because that is how we can lower the chances of the evolution of newer variants. This pandemic appears to be far from over and in this world of rising uncertainty, we must take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Stay safe and stay healthy.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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