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After Mumbai, XE variant of coronavirus found in Gujarat: Govt sources

After Mumbai, XE variant of coronavirus found in Gujarat: Govt sources

The patient in Gujarat had tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13 and had recovered in a week.

The new mutant variant XE is actually a hybrid of two versions of Omicron. These are the BA.1 and BA.2. (Representative Image) The new mutant variant XE is actually a hybrid of two versions of Omicron. These are the BA.1 and BA.2. (Representative Image)

After Maharashtra, Gujarat has now detected a case of highly transmissible XE sub-variant of Omicron, according to top sources in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The patient in Gujarat had tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13 and had recovered in a week. 

Post genome sequencing, it was found that this patient had been infected with the XE variant of the coronavirus. The sample will be re-examined to confirm if it is, in fact, the XE variant of the coronavirus, government sources told India Today.

Meanwhile, one case each of the XM variant of the coronavirus has also been detected in both Maharashtra and Gujarat. 

What is XE variant of the coronavirus? 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that a newly identified mutant of the novel coronavirus known as XE appears to be around 10 per cent more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron. 

This is significant as up till now the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron was considered to be the most contagious strain of the novel coronavirus. 

The new mutant variant XE is actually a hybrid of two versions of Omicron. These are the BA.1 and BA.2. However, right now XE only accounts for a small number of COVID-19 cases across the planet. The new mutant XE variant was first detected in the United Kingdom (UK) on January 19.

THE XM variant is also a recombinant hybrid of BA.1 and BA.2 strains of Omicron.

XE Variant case in Mumbai 

On Wednesday, the first case of the XE variant of the coronavirus in India was detected in Mumbai, according to the city's civic body. The variants were found during genome sequencing of 376 samples.

However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) later on denied reports of detection of first COVID-19 variant XE.

Hours after the first case of the XE COVID-19 variant was detected in Mumbai, top officials of the central government's research body INSACOG said the case will have to be re-examined.  

"There is a need to reconfirm the case and find out whether the sample is infected with the "recombinant" variant or multiple exposure to the virus variants. We will run genome sequencing again to check for multiple exposures," INSACOG sources told India Today TV. 

The re-examination is currently underway for the Mumbai XE variant case. The sample has been sent to Pune's National Institute of Virology.

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