Explaining the new COVID variant XE and is it the sign of a fourth wave?
COVID cases are on the rise yet again, especially in Delhi and a single case has also been suspected in Mumbai. The new XE variant is identified as a sub-variant of Omicron, although there is no concrete proof that it is more dangerous than the previous variants.
The XE variant hasn't been in the country for long. In fact, it has been discovered quite recently as the schools/ colleges reopened and normalcy was slowly returning.
What is the XE variant?
XE variant is a 'recombinant', which means it inhibits the mutations found in the two prominent sub-variants BA.1 and BA. 2 of the Omicron variant. The same Omicron, which was responsible for over 90 per cent of infections detected this year.
XE variant was first seen in the United Kingdom in January and to this day, more than 600 samples have been identified in various countries.
Genetic mutation is essential for all viruses and organisms to keep existing. It is no surprise that a recombinant variant is off the leash. In fact, variants containing the characteristic mutations of Delta and Omicron have also been identified.
Is the XE variant a bigger threat than Omicron?
At the present, there is no reliable proof to exhibit that it's more dangerous than the Omicron. There isn't much distinction between the two variants as of now. Although, it is being suspected that XE could be 10% more transmissible than the dominant B.A2 variant.
There hasn't been a dramatic influx (like the 2nd & 3rd waves) in the XE cases since its discovery 3 months ago which further directs that it might not be a bigger threat, at least for now.