India has not officially reported any confirmed cases of the XE variant. The Mumbai civic body on Wednesday announced the first case of the XE variant, though the central government disagreed with the findings.
The centre’s research body, INSACOG, stated that the case will have to be re-examined. “There is a need to reconfirm the case and find out whether the sample is infected with the “recombinant” variant or multiple exposure to the virus variants. We will run genome sequencing again to check for multiple exposures,” INSACOG sources told India Today TV.
The sample will be sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG) for further analysis to confirm the new variant.
Though this strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been found in several countries since it was first discovered in the UK in January this year.
WHAT IS XE VARIANT OF COVID-19
The XE variant is a ‘recombinant’, which means it is a mix of the BA.1 and BA.2 varieties of Omicron. A recombination is fairly common with coronavirus and is an expected mutational event.
This new variant has been labelled as more transmissible than any other Covid strain. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), this recombinant variant is 10 per cent more transmissible than BA.2.
The BA.1 and BA.2 are two prominent sub-variants of the Omicron variant — which is responsible for over 90 per cent of the infections detected in 2022. In India, it was the BA.2 that was the most dominant during the third wave. There is another less common sub-variant — BA.3.
The BA.2 was found to be slightly more transmissible than BA.1. It has spread across the globe, accounting for almost 94 per cent of all Omicron infections in the last one month, as per the WHO.
The WHO had issued warnings against a recombinant virus of the Omicron, Delta. This was highly expected since both Omicron and Delta had circulated in a massive scale.
In a recent update, the WHO said, “Given the current high level of transmission worldwide, it is likely that further variants, including recombinants, will continue to emerge.”
Currently, China is under the grip of the new variant with Shanghai recording over 17000 cases in a single day. The city remains in lockdown following the jump in infections. The Chinese authorities are conducting more mass testing.