India reports 1st case of XE variant in Mumbai, fully jabbed woman found infected

India’s first case of the XE variant of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was reported from Mumbai on Wednesday, Hindustan Times reported.

Results of the 11th genome sequencing declared by the city civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC,)  found one sample positive for XE variant and another for Kappa variant.

The individual who tested positive for the XE variant was a fully vaccinated 50-year-old women with no comorbidity and asymptomatic, BMC officials said. She had come from South Africa on February 10 and had no prior travel history. On arrival, she had tested negative for the virus.

The woman, a costume designer, had been inoculated against the virus with two doses the Comirnaty vaccine.

On March 2, in a routine test at Suburban diagnostics, she was found infected and was quarantined in a room in Taj Lands End. Officials said another test was done on the next day by Spice Health, where she tested negative.

The BMC had tested 230 samples which 99.13 per cent or 228 samples tested positive for the Omicron strain that had driven the spread of the virus earlier this year across the country.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier said the new subvariant – ‘XE’ – a hybrid strain of two Omicron sub variants, could be the most transmissible coronavirus strain so far.

According to the global health body, early studies indicated the variant had a growth rate advantage of 10 per cent as compared to BA.2, one of the very contagious variants.

A study in UK, which is facing a fresh wave of infections, suggested that while there were signs of “community transmission” of XE in England, it remained less than one per cent of the totally sequenced coronavirus cases.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) was studying XE — a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains — and as of March 22, 637 XE cases had been detected in England, according to official figures.

Professor Susan Hopkins, the UKHSA’s chief medical advisor, said such variants were known as “recombinant” and usually died off “relatively quickly”.

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