Wait, There's an Omicron XL Now in South Korea Too?

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency recently detected its first case of an Omicron recombinant variant named XL.

During a briefing on Tuesday, April 12, the agency said that the XL patient had no prior recent travel history, showed no symptoms, and had already received a third dose. The patient, who is a man in his 40s, tested positive last March 23.

XL is said to be one of some 17 combinations of two sublineages BA.1 (existing Omicron) and BA.2 (Stealth Omicron) of the Omicron variant, which are causing outbreaks all around the world. In Korea's case, its first six cases of BA.2, much like BA.1, rampaged the country. By the third week of March, BA.2 could be seen in about 56 percent of local cases.

Nevertheless, the presence of recombinant Omicron variants is low in Korea despite. It is, however, unclear how much whole whole genomic sequencing is occurring in the nation. Korea is the second country to detect XL after the U.K. confirmed 66 cases of the new strain last February.


Quarantine authorities had confirmed the XL mutation after a series of random genetic analysis tests on 3,438 samples of confirmed patients during the past month. Authorities are said to be investigating up to 80 individuals, covering family members and close contacts of the infected XL mutation patient.

However, Lee Sang-Won, the head of the KDCA’s epidemiological analysis team, told The Korea Herald that BA.1 and BA.2 only overlapped for a brief priod. “Their transmissibility has increased compared to BA.2," said the head. "But based on data so far, there’s no evidence the recombinant variants are associated with more severe disease.”

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Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is a Filipino cultural critic, editor, and essayist. He writes about art, books, travel, people, current events, and all the magic in between. His past work in film and media can be found on PeopleAsia Magazine, The Philippine Star, MANILA BULLETIN, and IMDB.
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