India’s first case of COVID-19 variant XE was reported in Mumbai today, in a media release, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation informed. One case of the Kappa variant has also been detected. So far, no severe symptoms have been reported in patients infected with the new virus variants.
According to the World Health Organization, the new mutant may be more transmissible than any other strain of Covid-19.
Officials from the union home ministry, on the other hand, disagreed, claiming that the evidence does not point to an XE variant.
“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 genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with genomic picture of XE variant,” an official said.
The Mumbai patient is a 50-year-old costume designer who recently returned from South Africa. She tested positive for Covid on March 2, according to the BMC.
The new strain was discovered in the United Kingdom at the start of the new year. According to the UK’s health agency, XE was first detected on January 19, and 637 cases of the new variant have been reported in the country so far.
XE is a “recombinant” strain resulting from a mutation of the BA’1 and BA.2 Omicron strains. When a patient is infected with multiple Covid variants, recombinant mutations occur. The variants mix up their genetic material during replication, resulting in a new mutation, according to UK experts in a paper published in British Medical Journal.
“Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation,” the global health body had added.
Out of the 230 Mumbai patients whose samples were sent for genome sequencing, 228 are positive for Omicron, one Kappa and one XE. 21 of the total 230 patients had to be hospitalised, though none of them needed oxygen or intensive care. 12 of those hospitalised were unvaccinated and nine had taken both doses.