A worrying new Covid strain has been found in the UK – but boffins say it’s too early to say exactly how transmissible it really is.
Top scientists at the UK Health Security Agency warned they were studying the new XE variant.
They say it is a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains, meaning it is a “recombinant” as it is a combination of two other viral sources.
But experts currently don’t know if it is more transmissible than previous strains that have previously wreaked havoc across the UK.
There were 637 cases with the XE strain in England as of March 22, the health agency said.
It means it would make up just a small fraction of cases reported with the latest data showing almost 70,000 people in England were positive for the virus on April 2.
The health agency said initial growth rates showed that XE was not dissimilar from BA.2, according to Wales Online.
It added: "As this estimate has not remained consistent as new data have been added, it cannot yet be interpreted as an estimate of growth advantage for the recombinant.
"Numbers were too small for the XE recombinant to be analysed by region.”
Top government boffin Sir Patrick Vallance admitted the next Covid variant could be worse than Omicron.
He said it would be a “mistake” to think the more the virus evolves, the less deadly it would become.
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Although Covid cases may have peaked, there will be more hospitalisations and deaths to come from this current wave, Sir Patrick added.
He told MPs that despite the vaccination programmes success at preventing deaths, it was not a "credible" strategy to give people booster jabs every four months.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom for Brits as a successful vaccine roll out and more developed medical equipment mean it is now easier to deal with new strains.
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