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New Covid-19 Variant Detected In Australia For The First Time After Overseas Traveller Brought It In

Stewart Perrie

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New Covid-19 Variant Detected In Australia For The First Time After Overseas Traveller Brought It In

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

A highly transmissible new strain of the coronavirus has been detected in Australia for the first time.

It's believed an overseas traveller brought Omicron XE into the country, according to News Corp, and it's feared it could spark loads of cases across Australia.

There have already been thousands of infections across the UK, Thailand, India and Israel, and now it's here.

XE is a recombinant variant of the two Omicron variant subtypes BA.1 and BA.2, meaning it has a combination of the twin mutations.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Data from the UK has suggested XE is around 10 to 20 per cent more transmissible than BA.2.

BA.2 was more contagious and could spread more easily than its predecessor and it wasted no time in becoming the dominant variant for infections around the world.

Considering XE shares a lot of the same information as BA.1 and BA.2, it's not expected to affect vaccinated people any different.

University of Leeds virologist Grace Roberts explained in an article on The Conversation that the coronavirus pandemic has entered the stage where there will likely be loads of different mutations from the original virus.

However, it's unclear yet whether each one will be deadlier.

“We know that Omicron XE has the majority of its genetic information, including the spike protein, from the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, which is the variant predominating in the UK at the moment,” she said.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

“It is likely, therefore, that the characteristics of omicron XE (such as transmissibility, severity of disease and vaccine efficacy) are similar to those of BA.2.”

The Omicron XE strain that has now made its way to Australia isn't the only recombinant version of Omicron.

There's also the 'XQ strain in the UK, XG in Denmark, XJ in Finland and XK in Belgium', according to The Conversation.

BA.2 was detected in Australia for the first time last month and the New South Wales Health Minister warned we cannot be complacent when it comes to protecting ourselves against Covid-19.

Brad Hazzard told a budget estimates hearing that people should remain vigilant.

"While the community may have gone to sleep on the virus, the virus has not gone to sleep on the community," he said.

"The virus can still wreak havoc if we don't go out there and go and get our boosters fast."

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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