Covid, Xj is a recombination of Omicron sub-variants but “needs to be studied”. Bassetti: “Stop the terrorism of variants”

Not a new variant, but a recombination of sub-variants of the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus that isolated yesterday in Reggio Calabria is called Xj. “The variant, in fact, is distinguished from another by one or more mutations. The recombined form, on the other hand, is a hybrid of two variants or two sub-variants – in this case Omicron 1 and 2 – in the same person “. Massimo Ciccozzi, head of the Medical Statistics and Epidemiology Unit of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Bio-Medico Campus of Rome, speaking with Adnkronos Salute, invites you not to be alarmed by this new guise of the pandemic virus, identified for the first time in Italy from the Asp laboratory of the Calabrian capital and of which they had already been discovered few cases in Finland. “It is therefore a ‘normal’ recombinant form of two variants of which it essentially retains the characteristics – continues Ciccozzi – and ‘recombines’ in a place other than the Spike protein. It should have the same contagiousness as the Omicrons, therefore, which is remarkable. At the most, it could present one more symptom than what we have seen so far ”. In short, it does not change much, but it is important however, continues Ciccozzi, “to have the picture of what is happening through the genomic surveillance, as well as the British do. We are far behind on this, we do not do the number of sequencing that other countries do. But it is very useful to do them because from the evolutionary point of view it allows us to see, for example, that the Omicron variant and all its sub-variants they are mixing with each other to adapt more and more and lead us towards endemization“.

The Xj “recombination of the SarS-CoV-2 virus”, not to be confused with a variant “could be only a small variation. To be clear it is like having a blue or yellow Fiat Panda but always a Fiat Panda. To understand if “recombining the pieces” it becomes an Alfa Romeo or a Ferrari, it takes some time and you have to put together a series, as is done for the Xe, the English one, which has a thousand isolations. At this moment, therefore, the Xj should not cause any alarmeven if attention and the need for further study are certainly needed – says the virologist Fabrizio Pregliasco, professor at the State University of Milan – When we have the letter X we are always faced with recombinants, therefore of viruses that probably, infecting a single subject, recombine in replication. We have arrived at the ‘j’, the ‘is the most detected in England, so at this moment it is important to understand that we have the ability to do these sequencing and to monitor. As long as the virus circulates there will be many variants, so we also take this new recombination as a stimulus to increase what little is done in Italy, that is, sequencing at least on a sample basis on significant quantities. Then the epidemiological importance and possibly the evolutionary advantage that this recombination has over others must be understood“.

“The Xj, isolated yesterday in Reggio Calabria is nothing more than a recombination of the sub-variants of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2, therefore it contains a small piece of both. But once again it must be clarified without raising an unjustified fuss or unnecessary alarmismand: it is in the order of things that the virus changes and evolves, there will always be variants and recombinations as we have seen for many other viruses. It’s in the order of things, don’t worry too much. And as they continue to say since the isolation of Alfa ‘we avoid the terrorism of variants – says Matteo Bassetti, director of the Infectious Diseases Clinic of the San Martino Polyclinic in Genoa Having discovered the Xe mutation in England, as well as the isolated one in Calabria , is the result of the fact that we study this virus as we have never done in the past. On the one hand this is good because we are learning to know it, on the other hand, however, scientific, clinical and laboratory news continue to emerge which should only be the prerogative of the scientific communityinstead, when they reach the general public, not ready to fully understand what a recombination with respect to a variant is, an unjustified alarmism spreads. For this – he reiterates – we must pay close attention to correct communication “.
As for Xj “for now everything we know could be more contagious but it absolutely has to be tried. So further studies are needed ”.

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