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First case of Omicron's sub-variant XE found in Gujarat

A 67-year-old man from Gujarat has been infected with XE variant of Covid-19. 

First case of Omicron's sub-variant XE found in Gujarat

New Delhi: The XE variant of Covid-19, a more infectious variety, has been found in Gujarat. The new variant was found in a patient who had tested positive for the virus a month ago, the additional chief secretary of the state’s health department said.

Covid-19 XE variant was detected in a 67-year-old Gujarat man, who had tested positive on March 12. The Gujarat resident had travelled from Mumbai to Vadodara and had tested positive for the virus upon arrival.

"A man from Santa Cruz in Mumbai, had tested positive for Covid-19 on March 12 during his visit to Vadodara. His wife was accompanying him," Medical Officer of Health, Vadodara Municipal Corporation, Devesh Patel said.

As per the results of his sample's genome sequencing received yesterday, he is found to have been infected with the new mutant XE, a sub-variant of Omicron, he said.

"He was found positive on March 12. His sample was sent for genome sequencing. As per the result, declared yesterday, he was found infected with a new mutant XE variant," he said.

"He had provided local address of his relatives for his sample. He had returned to Mumbai on his own soon after. No further status of the patient is known to the local authorities," Patel added. 

The XE variant is a recombinant of BA.1 and BA.2, the sub-lineages of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19. In addition to those, it has three other mutations which were not there in Omicron or BA.1 or BA.2. "That is why it is called XE. It will now be a variant," Rakesh Mishra, Director of the Tata Institute of Genetics and Society, Bengaluru, told PTI.

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Meanwhile,  Rajeev Jayadevan, Co-Chairman National IMA COVID task force, on Thursday said that going by the trends so far, there is nothing surprising about the discovery of the new XE variant. XE variant is a slightly tuned-up version of Omicron, not an all-new variant.

Jayadevan said the XE variant is the combination of BA.1 and BA.2 where X stands for Recombinant Type and E is the sequence of its discovery. Mutation and recombination are techniques used by viruses to become fitter.

(With agency inputs)

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