Dr George Christos

covid19 & other Infectious diseases

Omicron XE causing new surge in Covid in Malta

Yes, Omicron XE is still active. Omicron XE is a recombinant of the variants BA.1 and BA.2. BA.2 is very different to BA.1 and virologists are just starting to relabel BA.2 variants in a class of their own. The BA.2 variants should have been given a new Greek letter by the WHO.

Recombinant variants are a quantum leap with respect to mutations and you can easily see from the diagram below. We are lucky there are basically just 2 strains now and that BA.1 is being washed out. BA.4 and BA.5 are in the same family as BA.2.

I have noticed that GISAID have allowed for recombinant variants Omicron XE, XG, XH, XJ, XK, XL, XM, XN, XP, XQ, XR, XT, XU, XV, XW, XY and XZ, although I do not think any other than Omicron XE has been observed so far. If all the BA.1 variants get washed out there will not be any new Omicron recombinants as BA.4 and BA.5 are in the same family as BA.2, but there is nothing to stop Omicron XE crossing over with BA.2.*, BA.4 or BA.5. I am not sure if “deltracron” has been washed out of the system as yet.

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Crossover is a quantum leap in variation compared to mutation.

What is interesting though is that BA.4 and BA.5 are capable of “sprint” mutations, where they mutate 4 or 5 times faster than normal. These may be where our next major variant will come from.

Here is an article about omicron XE in Malta.


Here is a news articles about the sprint mutations on BA.4 and BA.5. The pandemic can still just kick off gain if a new more virulent mutations results from BA.4 or BA.5. So far we know that BA.4 and BA.5 are the mildest Omicron variants so far. What we do not know is what a select mutation may result in. Although viruses tend to mutate themselves away (that is, become extremely weak), that is not the case always. With “sprint” mutations we may see something more dangerous develop.


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