Omicron XE: The threat to whānau while travelling

By Stefan Dimitrof

A leading immunologist says the new XE Omicron variant, which has just arrived in Aotearoa, is not very infectious

Malaghan Institute of medical research Professor Graham Le Grow was talking to when he made those comments.

Le Grow says the XE variant or Omicron is a mixture of two other variants of Omicron. “At this stage, we think it’s benign and not very infectious and we don’t think it’s very serious.”

Although in the early stages of observation the experts believe XE Omicron is a little more infectious than the core strain of Omicron but the real concern is its ability to evade the vaccinations-induced immune response.

“At this stage, we haven’t seen the XR Omicron being any better at the evasion of the immune response. So to all the people listening, go get your booster. It will make you safe against XE just as much at the other Omicron.”

At this stage, Le Grow says that there is no reason to adjust anything with the traffic light system as the new variant is very much the same as the current Omicron. “What we are looking out for are more serious variants that could still come from overseas”.

'Get that booster'

Le Grow says whānau who are travelling should “trust in the vaccine and get themselves boosted and they’ll be safe for that very important period afterwards”.

“Get a booster before you go on holiday and you’ll be safe.”

Le Grow says that even when people have had the two shots and have contracted Covid it’s still important to get the booster as the natural infection from the virus caught doesn’t protect them from the other variants.

“Getting the booster for the vaccine spreads the support a bit further and is very good at protecting against all the variants.”

The other things Le Grow advises to help whānau to better increase their chances of not catching the virus are wearing the correct masks, using hand hygiene and practising social distancing while there is Covid in the community and, especially, while travelling.