Although Measures Have Eased, COVID-19 Variants Continue to Arise
Health authorities warn about a new COVID-19 variant: Omicron XE. Omicron XE is a recombinant form of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 first identified in the UK and with 637 cases confirmed in the country according to the latest statistics. Today, India reported its first Omicron XE case. Cases have also occurred in China and Thailand.
“This particular recombinant, XE, has shown a variable growth rate and we cannot yet confirm whether it has a true growth advantage. So far there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about transmissibility, severity or vaccine effectiveness, “said Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor, UKHSA.
This variant causes fatigue and fever at the beginning of the infection, followed by headaches, soreness and fever. In the UK, the variant represented 6.5 percent of positive COVID-19 tests and infections are doubling every 30 days with a 1.07 estimated reproduction number (R), as reported in the REACT government-backed study. Over 94 percent of the positive cases in the country are linked to the Omicron BA.2.
“Although restrictions have ended, I would urge people to still behave cautiously to help protect others who might be vulnerable, and avoid contact with other people if you have symptoms. This will help to slow the spread of the virus and lessen its impact on the NHS and our lives more broadly as we enter this next phase of the epidemic,” said Paul Elliott, Director, REACT.
Restrictions also eased in Mexico City. According to Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City Governor, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic Mexico’s capital has reached a zero-index epidemic risk. For this reason, Mexico City made mask use optional in open spaces but social distancing must still be respected.
Until April 4, 2022, Mexico reported 10 consecutive weeks of decreasing COVID-19 cases and active cases remained at 0.1 percent. Hospitalizations and mortality rates have also decreased by 98 percent compared with the highest peak of the pandemic.
Mexico’s Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gattel said that 97 percent of those hospitalized during the fourth pandemic wave were not vaccinated. The Ministry of Health reports that over 79 million Mexicans are fully vaccinated but vaccination campaigns will continue until all inhabitants are fully protected against the virus. Moreover, children are now eligible to receive the pediatric Pfizer vaccine but legal procedures and the lack of the vaccine in the country is delaying the application process.
To make more vaccines available in the country, CONACYT is helping in the development of the Patria COVID-19 vaccine. López-Gatell has invited the population to join the clinical trials for this vaccine. “Participants of the clinical trial will receive medical observation throughout a year for their general health needs apart from the evaluations related to the vaccine,” said López-Gatell.