The new Omicron strain – XE – has now reared its head in India, with the first case detected in Maharashtra’s capital, Mumbai. In a statement, Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation said that of the 230 Covid-infected patients, one has been infected with the XE strain and another with the Kapa variant. Twenty-one patients had to be hospitalised, but none required oxygen support.
The XE variant is touted to be more transmissible than previous strains of the novel coronavirus. WHO said the new strain is known as the XE recombinant, which means that it is a mutant hybrid of the two previous versions of the Omicron variant, BA.1 and BA.2.
Here’s all you need to know about the new Omicron strain:
- According to the UK Health Security Agency, the new Omicron strain is being called a stealth variant because of its ability to evade detection.
- The new strain of the Omicron variant appears to be more transmissible than any previous strains. In its latest update, the WHO said the new strain is known as the XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2). XE belongs to the Omicron variant until significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, may be reported. A recombinant strain means that it is a mutant hybrid of the two previous versions of the Omicron variant, BA.1 and BA.2.
- The new strain was first detected in the UK on January 19 and more than 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since then.
- Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 per cent as compared to BA.2. This finding, however, requires further confirmation. The BA.2 has been deemed to be the most contagious of all the variants so
- According to the WHO, the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is still the most dominant as 86 per cent of all sequenced cases are being attributed to it. The XE recombinant only accounts for a small fraction of the cases, but its extremely high transmissibility could mean that it becomes the most dominant strain in the near future.
(With agency inputs)