However, soon PTI citing officials reported that there was no scientific evidence to declare the case as Omicron XE.
The new variant of the novel coronavirus appears to be nearly 10% more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, said the World Health Organisation.
Also Read | Omicron XE COVID-19 variant: Signs and symptoms
The XE, a recombinant strain of two sub-lineages of Omicron, BA.1 and BA.2, still “belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, may be reported,” the WHO said in its recent weekly epidemiological report released on March 29.
Until now, the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron was considered the most contagious mutant of Covid-19. This new research would make XE the most transmissible Covid-19 mutant so far.
The XE variant was first detected in the UK on January
19, and over 600 XE cases have been confirmed since then.
What is variant XE?
The new variant, XE, is a mutant hybrid of two versions of Omicron – BA.1, the original version of Omicron and BA.2, known as “stealth omicron”. Currently, it accounts for only a small proportion of cases across the globe.
The WHO April 1 issued a report on its findings of XE. “Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10% as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation,” WHO said in its report.
Until major differences in characteristics, including severity and transmission, are found in the XE variant, it will continue to be categorized as part of the Omicron variant.
Meanwhile, the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is spreading globally and now accounts for a majority of new cases of Covid-19 reported in the US and the UK. Both these nations score best in terms of vaccinating their populations.
Britain’s Health Security Agency is monitoring three recombinant lineages XD, XE and XF.
The XD is the recombinant of Delta and BA.1 and has been mostly detected in France, Denmark and Belgium.