Within few days of lifting all COVID-19 related curbs from April 2, including mandatory wearing of masks and maintaining physical distancing, Maharashtra reported India’s first case of Coronavirus variant XE on April 6 in Mumbai, though within hours Union Health Ministry disagreed saying the present evidence does not suggest that it is XE variant. Since it is only a preliminary assessment of one variant, and there may emerge others, India needs utmost care and preparedness for any eventuality. The fact is that this new variant has been detected in Britain and it will need a few days for this to infect people in India.
India also needs to be more vigilant and careful about even on XE variant, since it is a “recombinant” mutation of BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains. One should note that a recombinant mutation emerge when a patient is infected by multiple variants, that mix up their genetic material during replication and form a new mutation. This new mutation, according to WHO, appears to be 10 per cent more transmissible than BA.2 sub-variant. Therefore, we need to watch the development carefully, not for this one, but other more infections and virulent mutations too.
Dr Gyan Pathak