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VERIFY | It is possible that the XE COVID-19 variant found overseas is already in south Texas?

The variant is the latest mutation of the coronavirus, against which health officials say vaccination remains the strongest safeguard.

SAN ANTONIO — We are now more than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, and many are starting to let their guard down.

The coronavirus has mutated several times since it first popped up two years ago. First there was alpha, then beta and then came the latest to cause a major surge in the U.S. over the winter, omicron. 

Since then, BA.2 has also popped up in south Texas, without causing cases to skyrocket as they did back in January. 

But there is a new one called XE, which leads us to tonight's claim.

THE QUESTION

Is it possible that the XE coronavirus variant found overseas could already be in south Texas?

THE SOURCES

  • Dr. Bryan Alsip, the Chief Medical Director for University Health
  • Dr. Anita Kurian, the Assistant Director of San Antonio's Metro Health

THE ANSWER

TRUE

WHAT WE FOUND

"It's certainly possible, but I think some of the early indications are, at least on a practical level, that may not be particularly concerning given what we're seeing in some of the other countries," Alsip said. 

The XE variant has been found to be slightly more transmissible than omicron and omicron BA.2. Kurian says that because of lower case counts and less testing, finding a new variant here does become more difficult.

"It's quite possible, but we haven't detected it just yet definitively here," Kurian said. "But there are strains that are circulating overseas that probably have made its way here and just not been picked up because of the reduction in the number of tests and genomic sequencing that's been done." 

So yes, it is true. It is possible that the XE coronavirus variant is already here in south Texas. 

But just like with all other pervious variants, vaccinations and boosters remain your best weapon to fight whatever this pandemic has to throw at us. 

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