Thailand has reported its first case of Omicron XE, a hybrid of two previous Omicron variants, shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning about the new strain.
The Center for Medical Genomics at Ramathibodi Hospital confirmed the discovery of XE, a mutant hybrid of the BA.1 and BA.2 variants. The XE recombinant was discovered through genomic sequencing of a swab sample taken from a Thai patient.
According to the center, the XE recombinant is not the Deltacron variant.
The WHO warned last week that XE could be the most contagious strain of the new coronavirus, though its severity is still unknown.
According to the WHO, Deltacron – a hybrid of the Delta and Omicron strains – does not spread quickly or cause severe symptoms, despite the unconfirmed discovery of another case via Massarray Genotyping.
Omicron XE was first detected in the United Kingdom on January 19th, 2022, and over 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since then.
The UK Health Services Agency said Omicron XE is 10% more transmissible than BA.2 and 43% more transmissible than the original Omicron (BA.1) variant.
Health officials said it remains to be seen whether Omicron XE will become the dominant strain.