The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said in a media release India’s first case of Coronavirus variant XE was reported in Mumbai on Wednesday, while one case of the Kappa variant has also been detected.
The patients with the new variants of the virus have not shown any severe symptoms so far.
“The patient had foreign travel history and we put the patient’s sample for genome sequencing along with 230 samples. Of the 230, 228 had Omicron BA2 variant and one had Kapa and one was detected with XE,” Additional BMC Commissioner Suresh Kakani said. “As per the guidelines of the World Health Organisation, the BA 2 and XE is at par so far the spreadability is concerned. As of now there is nothing to worry about,” he added.
The World Health Organisation had said last week that the new mutant may be more transmissible than any strain of Covid-19.
Official sources from the union health ministry, however, disagreed, saying the present evidence does not suggest that it is the XE variant.
“FASTQ files in respect of the sample, which is being said to be XE variant, were analysed in detail by genomic experts of INSACOG who have inferred that genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with genomic picture of XE variant,” an official said.
The BMC said in its release that the Mumbai patient is a 50-year-old costume designer who returned from South Africa in February. She tested positive for Covid on March 2.
The new strain was detected in the UK at the start of the new year. Britain’s health agency said on April 3 that XE was first detected on January 19 and 637 cases of the new variant have been reported in the country so far.
XE is a “recombinant” which is a mutation of BA’1 and BA.2 Omicron strains. Recombinant mutations emerge when a patient is infected by multiple variants of Covid. The variants mix up their genetic material during replication and form a new mutation, UK experts said in a paper published in British Medical Journal.