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How Dangerous is COVID XE Variant?


XE Variant COVID UPSC: Relevance

  • GS 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


COVID XE Variant: Context

  • Recently, a new variant of coronavirus named XE variant was discovered in Mumbai and Gujarat where persons were found infected with the newly discovered ‘XE’ variant.


What is XE variant of COVID?

  • XE is a sub-variant of omicron variant of COVID 19.
  • COVID XE variant is called a ‘recombinant’. This means it contains the mutations found in 1 as well as BA.2 varieties of Omicron.
    • 1 and BA.2 are the two prominent sub-variants of COVID.
    • During the initial phase, the BA.1 sub-variant was the most widespread. In India, however, it was the BA.2 that was the most dominant during the third wave.
    • Recombination is common among coronaviruses and is regarded as an expected mutational event.


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Is XE variant dangerous than Omicron?

  • As of now, we don’t have enough evidence to show that the XE variant is significantly different from the other varieties of Omicron.
  • It has been noticed that XE variant could be about 10 per cent more transmissible than the dominant BA.2 variant.
  • Importantly, XE variant was first detected three months ago and till now no significant increase in the incidence of the XE variant has been witnessed. Hence, it might be concluded that XE variant is not be a big worry at present.
  • XE variant have not been found to cause a more severe form of the disease compared to other Omicron varieties.

कोविड- एक्सई वेरिएंट कितना खतरनाक है?

XE variant India

  • The XE variant that was discovered in Mumbai was immediately overturned by the Union Health Ministry, which said that the variant is yet to be confirmed.
  • It, however, would not be surprising if the XE variant is indeed found in India since the travel restrictions have been mostly done away with.
  • Moreover, it is also possible that the XE variant is already circulating in the Indian population, but is yet to be detected.
  • As of now, it is not very different from the Omicron variant, and the threat from the XE variant to the Indian population is quite low right now.


How Dangerous is COVID XE Variant?_4.1


How will XE variant affect Indians

  • Since the virus has not been completely eliminated, the possibility of a fresh wave cannot be ruled out.
  • However, for a virus to cause a fresh wave, it has to either be much more transmissible, has special abilities to bypass the immunity gained by human beings from prior infection, or cause more severe disease, which seems unlikely in the near term.
  • A 50% of Indian population has been infected by the Omicron variant, and the immunity gained from that infection is likely to be still effective.


XE Variant: Conclusion

  • A fresh wave in the near future, if it comes, would most likely be caused by a new variant that is not very similar in characteristics to the Omicron variant.


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