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Current Affairs

XE variant of Coronavirus

Date: 08 April 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A woman from Maharashtra has been assumed to be infected with the newly-discovered ‘XE’ variant of the Coronavirus.

 

Background

Till now, the XE variant was not found in India. The announcement has sparked concern about the possibility of a fresh wave of infections in India.

 

Details

  • The XE is a sub-variant of the Omicron variant that was responsible for the third wave of Covid-19 this winter.

  • The Omicron variant has sub-variants called BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3. Initially BA.1 was most dominant one but the third wave in India was caused by BA.2 variant.

  • The XE is recombinant type. It contains the mutations of both BA.1 as well as BA.2 versions of Omicron.

  • The XE variant was discovered in the United Kingdom in January, and so far more than 600 samples of XE have been found in different countries. 

 

Threats due to XE variant

  • There are no evidences to show that the XE variant is significantly different from the other varieties of Omicron.

  • Some studies have shown that XE could be about 10 per cent more transmissible than the dominant BA.2 variant. 

  • There has been no significant increase in the incidence of the XE variant since its discovery, which shows it might not be a big worry at present.

 

Way ahead

  • About 40 percent of Indian population was recently infected with Omicron variant, which has given some sort of immunity.

  • Even if a new wave occurs in India, it may be caused by a new variant that is not very similar in characteristics to the Omicron variant.

 

Mutations in virus

Recombinant mutations are not new in viruses. Only a small amount of mutations significantly alter the abilities of the virus to infect, or to cause severe diseases.