Covid, new Xf variant isolated in Italy: it is a mix of Delta and Omicron

For the first time, in Italy, a new variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus was isolated and sequenced, called “Xf”, already defined by experts as a sort of fusion between the Delta and Omicron variant. The discovery, which was reported in the Bolognese edition of the newspaper “La Repubblica”, came thanks to the work of the researchers of the Pievesestina laboratory in Cesena, directed by the microbiologist Vittorio Sambri. The positive swab in which “Xf” was identified belonged to a patient who had reported important pathologies and who, once contracted Covid a couple of months ago, had subsequently died. “But not for the Xf variant, this must be said very clearly”, Sambri underlined.

The ongoing evaluations on the characteristics


Coronavirus in Italy and in the world: news today 12 April. LIVE

“Xf”, already widespread in England where it has been associated with about 100 cases, is therefore a cocktail between two variants, and has recently been uploaded to the databases managed by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Iss). “In Italy it had never been reported, it is the first time that it has been found in a patient, while there are about a hundred English cases”, confirmed the expert, professor at the University of Bologna. At the moment, however, any evaluation of the characteristics of this new variant is premature: the experts are working to try to understand similarities and differences with the variants already known, assess their danger, contagiousness, resistance to vaccines and therapies. In theory, “Xf” should include the “aggressive” characteristics of Delta with the high contagiousness of Omicron. This “is the conclusion we arrive at, which is why we brand it tightly. We study it in the laboratory to understand how much it is blocked by vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. In short, we must understand what this beast can do, there is no doubt ”, Sambri told“ La Repubblica ”. Basically, he said, resulting “the sum of A plus B, it is necessary to understand if C has the same characteristics as the first two letters. Because it could also pass without a trace ”And, to date,“ there is almost nothing in the literature ”, confirmed the microbiologist.

The appearance of new variants

The emergence of new variants, after trying, for example, to find out more about “Xe”, a mutation of Omicron that from the first studies is even more contagious, is a normal factor and should not be alarming. “It is logical that it happens, let’s not forget that the number of cases is high, the virus rotates in an important way and multiplies: the appearance of mutations that can lead to variants is normal. The problem is to understand which and how many emerge and what it can mean ”, concluded the expert. Ultimately, it is necessary to understand whether these are more or less “good” mutations and whether they occur without a trace. But research has a crucial role: we need to “understand what we have at home, it is fundamental”, said Sambri again.