Thailand records first case of ‘more contagious’ Omicron XE | Inquirer News

Thailand records first case of ‘more contagious’ Omicron XE

/ 05:33 PM April 03, 2022
thailand omicron xe

A security guard wearing a face mask stands beside equipment to check passengers’ temperatures at a BTS skytrain station in Bangkok on December 6, 2021 as Thailand recorded on Monday its first case of the Covid-19 coronavirus Omicron variant. AFP FILE PHOTO

BANGKOK — Thailand has recorded its first case of Omicron XE, Public Health Commission vice-chairman Chalermchai Boonyaleephan said on Saturday. The case was recorded by the Centre for Medical Genomics, Ramathibodi Hospital.

The first person found with Omicron XE has already recovered after developing mild symptoms, Chalermachai said in a Blockdit post.


He forecast the new virus variant would now spread in Thailand.

He added that it was necessary to monitor XE’s severity and resistance to vaccines, and also whether it would replace Omicron BA.2 as the dominant strain.


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that XE is 10 percent more transmissible than BA.2. The severity of the new strain is still being investigated.

“If this virus spreads faster than BA.2, Thailand’s Covid-19 cases during the fourth wave will take longer to reach a peak,” he said.

Under the government’s endemic-transition plan, the number of cases is expected to peak between April and May before declining in June to allow lifting of restrictions.

Chalermachai said the WHO will name Omicron XE “Pi” and declare it a new Covid-19 variant if it displays significant changes, such as viral spread, severity and resistance to vaccines.

XE is a recombinant variant, meaning it is a hybrid of two other strains – in this case, the original BA.1 Omicron variant and BA.2.

XE was first detected in the UK on January 19 and had infected 637 patients there as of March 19, according to a WHO report on Saturday.

“According to initial estimates, Omicron XE spreads 43 percent faster than the original variant and 10 percent faster than BA.2 subvariant,” he said.


“Following the discovery, many countries are now monitoring the new Covid-19 variant closely as it will likely become the dominant strain.”

If so, Thailand could face a fifth wave of Covid cases.

The four waves so far began with the Alpha variant, which spread 70 per ent faster than Wuhan and became dominant in April last year. Then came Delta, spreading 60 percent faster than Alpha and dominating from the end of last year. Omicron took over in January after spreading 4-8 times faster than Delta.

“The Omicron BA.1 subvariant became the dominant strain at the beginning of the fourth outbreak before being replaced by BA.2 which spread 30-40 per cent faster than BA.1,” Chalermchai said.


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