The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published a preliminary report on a new recombinant COVID-19 XE sub-variant, also dreaded “Frankenstein,” which is a mixture of the Omicron strain BA.1 and BA.2, Fox News reported.
The WHO said Frankenstein is not yet of interest or concern, according to a recent Euronews report.
The XE strain was first detected in the UK on 19 January, and there are now more than 1,000 cases, the report said.
A recombinant strain is a type of variant that occurs when a person becomes infected with two or more variants simultaneously, and they are prefixed with an “X” to classify them as recombinant, explained Dr. Stacia Wyman, senior genomic scientist at the Genomics Innovation Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.
Wyman noted that the XE subvariant came from humans who were infected with both BA.1 and BA.2 variants.
The genomic sequence of XE consists partly of BA.1 and partly of BA.2, but the gene encoding the protein that helps the virus attach to healthy cells belongs to BA.2. But even though it is part of BA.2, it is not yet known whether previous infection with BA.2 will provide immunity to XE, the scientist noted.
Because viruses naturally mutate over time, recombinant strains are not surprising, so XE does not currently appear to be more effective in evading immunity from previous vaccination or COVID-19 infection than previous strains, said Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center infectious disease specialist Dr. Carlos Malvestutto.