Covid’s New Variant: XE Has Entered India? Mumbai Reports 1st Such Case; This Is What Govt Said [Updated]
Update: Govt has informed that the reported Covid case in Mumbai is NOT XE variant. Govt sources said, “FastQ files in respect of the sample, which is being said to be ‘XE’ variant were analysed in detail by genomic experts of INSACOG who have inferred that the genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with the genomic picture of ‘XE’ variant,”
The new Omicron variant XE may have landed in India.
The highly transmissible XE has been found in a woman, a 50-year-old costume designer who arrived in Mumbai from South Africa in February.
She tested positive for Covid on March 2.
Although the Mumbai civic body confirmed this, officials from the Union Home Ministry disagreed, lending confusion to the situation.
Sources in the Home Ministry said that the present evidence does not suggest that it is the XE variant.
An official said that the sample, which is being said to be the XE variant, was analysed in detail by genomic experts.
They have inferred that the genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with that of the XE variant.
Civic Body Confirms Case
Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation told the media that one case of the XE variant and one of the Kappa variant have been detected in the city.
Additional BMC Commissioner Suresh Kakani said that the patient had foreign travel history and their sample was submitted for genome sequencing along with 230 samples.
Of the 230, 228 had Omicron BA2 variant, one had Kappa and one was detected with XE.
Kakani said that according to WHO guidelines, the BA 2 and XE is at par with respect to spreadability and that as of now there is nothing to worry about.
What We Know So Far
WHO had said recently that the new mutant may be more transmissible than any strain of COVID-19, about 10% more than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron.
XE was first detected in Britain on January 19 and 637 cases have been reported there so far.
XE is a “recombinant”- a mutation of BA’1 and BA.2 Omicron strains.
Such mutations appear when a patient is infected by multiple variants of Covid.
The variants mix up their genetic material during replication and form a new mutation.
The Situation In Mumbai
Out of the 230 Mumbai patients whose samples were sent for genome sequencing:
- 228 are positive for Omicron
- One for Kappa and one for XE
- 21 had to be hospitalised (none needed oxygen or intensive care)
- 12 hospitalised were unvaccinated
- 9 hospitalised had taken both doses