New Delhi : In the two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, most parts of the world have seen dramatic improvements in infection, hospitalization and mortality rates in recent weeks, indicating that the crisis appears to be easing. However, experts warn that it is not over yet. Even as the world awaits the end of the coronavirus pandemic, new forms or strains of COVID-19 are appearing. The latest variant that has raised some concern is the COVID-19 XE variant, a sub-variant of Omicron that is known to be more transmissible than other variants of the coronavirus. The XE variant is a combination or recombinant of both the BA.1 and BA.2 sub-variants of Omicron. So far, India has reported two cases of the COVID XE variant, the new variant of Omicron that was first discovered in the UK.
The latest case of the COVID XE variant in India was detected in Gujarat when a 67-year-old man from Mumbai tested positive for the new variant during his visit to Vadodara. Officials said the patient had tested positive for COVID-19 during his visit to Vadodara on March 12 but had returned to Mumbai the next day without informing the local authorities.
Two cases of COVID XE variant in India – should we worry?
India first detected the COVID XE variant case in Mumbai last week. The infection was detected in a 50-year-old South African woman who had been fully vaccinated with both doses of the comorbidity vaccine. Although,
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the Omicron sub-variant XE is not fatal and the only case detected in the condition of an elderly person is asymptomatic.
Tope said a 67-year-old man and his wife, who were in Mumbai, tested positive for coronavirus in Gujarat last month. “The man had come from London on March 6 and had come in contact with two British. On March 11, he developed a mild fever. On March 12, he was tested during his stay in Vadodara and the sample was sent to Gujarat Biotechnology Research Center for genome sequencing,” Tope said.
The Health Minister further said that the elderly man developed fever on March 13 and returned to Mumbai the next day.
Should we prepare ourselves for the fourth coronavirus wave
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning against XE and suggested that it may be more contagious than any COVID-19 strain so far. “We are seeing 1.5 million new cases every day. Large-scale outbreaks are spreading in Asia. A new wave is sweeping across Europe,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday.
“Estimates for the opening day indicate a community growth rate benefit of 10 per cent over BA.2. However, this finding requires further confirmation,” WHO said.
“WHO continues to closely monitor and assess the public health risk associated with recombinant variants, as with other SARS-CoV-2 variants, and will provide updates as further evidence becomes available,” the WHO said. .
Earlier, a modeling study conducted by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur suggested that the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India may begin around June 22 and peak by mid-August .
The peer-reviewed study, posted to preprint repository MedRxiv in February, used a statistical model to make predictions, finding that a potential new wave would last up to four months.
The study, led by Sabra Prasad Rajeshbhai, Subhra Shankar Dhar and Shalabh of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, IIT Kanpur, suggests that the severity of the fourth wave will depend on the emergence of a possible new coronavirus variant and vaccination status across the country.
“The data indicates that the fourth wave of COVID-19 in India will occur after 936 days from the initial data availability date, which is January 30, 2020,” the study authors said.
“Therefore, the fourth wave begins on June 22, 2022, reaches its peak on August 23, 2022 and ends on October 24, 2022,” they wrote in the research paper.