A man in a white PPE suit handing over a sivab to collect samples for coronavirus testing
A man in a white PPE suit handing over a sivab to collect samples for coronavirus testing

Mumbai says first case of XE coronavirus variant detected, Union govt denies

The Union Health Ministry issued a clarification after reports claimed that the first case of the new XE variant in India has been detected in Mumbai.

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday, April 6, denied reports which claimed that the first case of the new XE variant of the coronavirus in India has been detected in Mumbai. The clarification came shortly after reports, citing the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), claimed that a woman of South African origin was found to be infected with the new XE variant in the city.

The FastQ files in respect of the sample, which is being said to be the XE variant, were analysed in detail by genomic experts of the Indian Sars-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG). The INSACOG has inferred that the genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with the genomic picture of the XE variant. After the genome sequencing of the sample, evidence does not suggest that XE variant has been detected in India, the Union government said.

XE is a mutant hybrid of the two previous versions of the Omicron variant, BA.1 and BA.2, which is spreading across the world. It was first detected in the UK on January 19 and since then a few hundred sequences have been reported and confirmed.The XE variant is a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron variant, referred to as a "recombinant.” As per the initial studies, the XE variant has a growth rate of 9.8 percent over that of BA.2, also known as the stealth variant because of its ability to evade detection. The World Health Organisation has said the latest mutant may be more transmissible than the previous ones.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said further data is required before more can be said about the mutation. It said: "Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 per cent as compared to BA.2. However, this finding requires further confirmation. XE belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, may be reported."

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