The XE subtype is more transmissible than the currently transmitting Omicron, according to the WHO, whereas the Covid variety is a descendant of the original Omicron variant. In Ontario the current rise in cases resembles the fifth wave, which was powered by the Omicron variety and peaked in early January.

What is the XE sub-type?

The XE sub-type was detected in the UK for the first time in January. The variation has since been discovered in over 600 additional sequences. According to the World Health Organization, this sub-type is a recombination variety that shares characteristics with both the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron sub-types.

Why does this matter in Ontario?

We are now open! Back in early March the Ontario government removed all pandemic restrictions and scaled back most of our monitoring. Wastewater monitoring is showing sharp increases in COVID-19 infection. Most COVID-19 public health measures, including mask mandates in indoor settings, were dropped by the provincial government in March, but doctors in Ontario say we should start wearing masks again because they’re the quickest method to reduce infections.

The Dangers

Vaccines and antiviral medications should help the province deal with the latest outbreaks, but COVID’s continual mutation is a problem. We should not worry and should remain calm, but the government should assist in mitigating the crisis by requiring basic mask use indoors. We must do everything possible to avoid hospital overcrowding, as in earlier waves.