Threats have loomed around the world with the entry of a new Covid-19 variant–the XE variant. In India also, reports have emerged that a woman in Mumbai has been infected with the same Covid variant. However, the Centre has dismissed the reports. The government sources said that FastQ files of the sample, which is said to be the ‘XE’ variant, were analysed by INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium) which inferred that the genomic constitution of this variant doesn’t correlate with the genomic picture of ‘XE’.
Meanwhile, scientists are gathering information regarding the new XE Covid variant.
As per the researchers, the XE variant of Covid-19 is the subvariant of Omicron. It is a mutation of BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains, referred to as a “recombinant”. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the latest mutant may be more transmissible than the previous ones.
How dangerous is XE variant from Omicron?
According to various studies, the new Covid variant could be about 10% more transmissible than the dominant BA.2 variant. Due to the rapid spread, this mutant can cause more problems in the future. Due to this new variant, there is also a risk of a new Covid wave.
In how many countries XE variant of Covid-19 has been found?
The XE variant was first identified in the UK on 19 January 2022. After this, 637 new cases of this variant were reported in the country. Apart from Britain and India, the variant has also been traced in Thailand and New Zealand.
XE variant symptoms
According to WHO, at present, the XE variant is being monitored as part of the Omicron variant. Symptoms similar to Omicron are seen in the patient suffering from it. These include many symptoms including fever, sore throat, cold, cough, heart ailment, and palpitation.
Health experts have downplayed the fear centered around the XE variant of coronavirus. Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor at Christian Medical College in Vellore said the new XE variant of Covid-19 is not a matter of concern as it is not likely to cause any more severity than other sub-variants of Omicron (BA.1 and BA.2) did.
“Variants will come because people are travelling. Of what we know of the variant (XE) is that it is not a point of concern,” Kang said.
She added that in a vaccinated population XE variant is not something to be bothered about.
Senior epidemiologist Dr Raman Gangakhedekar, former head scientist of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said when a recombinant occurs, it tends to last for a lesser time.
Anurag Agrawal, Dean, Biosciences and Health Research at Ashoka University, said there is “no critical global signal of concern as of now” with regards to XE variant.
Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, a former scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, said people have developed hybrid immunity or immunity because of vaccination and infection in India. Therefore, there is no need to panic, he said. Also, it is too early to understand how the XE variant will challenge us.
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