A person in Gujarat has been infected with the XE variant of COVID, NDTV reported citing sources. They further reported that a case of XM, a more transmissible variant, had been detected in the state as well, but no details were shared regarding the condition of the patients.
Earlier this week, a person in Maharashtra was apparently diagnosed with the XE variant, but the Health Ministry later denied this report, saying that there wasn’t enough proof to suggest the person with foreign travel history has the new variant.
The new variant was first detected in the UK and the World Health Organization (WHO) has said it might be more transmissible than any other COVID strain. Virologists in India, however, are sceptical of the new variant’s ability to drive a fresh wave of infections, especially as the nation has conducted successful vaccine drives with many receiving the booster doses as well. People have nonetheless asked to remain cautious and show COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Officials have also noted that there’s been no particular spike in cases though sub-lineages of the omicron variant continue to be found in different parts of the world. They added, “Genomic experts are looking at the sub-lineages from genomic angle and public health experts at National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are analysing the new variants. Experts need to study the findings before they have a final conclusion with regard to public health impact of various variants”.
XE is formed by the recombination of the BA.1 and BA.2 omicron sublineages of COVID. Since its detection on January 19, there have been 600 sequences that were reported and then confirmed.
Early estimates suggest that the XE variant is 10% more transmissible than BA.2, but studies are still in the initial stages. The WHO has said vaccinated people are more protected from the new variant.