How dangerous is the OMICRON XE COVID variant?

by Dr. Sowmya Reddy P

Posted on : Apr 19, 2022


For months now, the world has been discussing, conjecturing, debating about the 'nth' Covid-19 wave scheduled to hit the world in June 2022. Beating the ETA, India saw 
Case 1 of the new Covid XE variant in April 2022 itself! The World Health Organisation has also issued a warning against this new mutant that may prove to be more transmissible than any of the Covid-19 strains until now.

What is known till now is that 'XE' is a recombinant mutant of Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.2. It was initially detected in the UK in January 2022post which hundreds of sequences have been reported and confirmed.

According to a WHO release, XE has 10% more community growth rate propensity in comparison to the BA.2 subvariant which is already recognized as the most contagious till date. Though XE is predicted to affect a comparatively small percentage of people, its high transmissibility could make it the most dominant strain to hit the world till date.

So what symptoms should one look out for?

The UK Health Security Agency advises that XE symptoms can manifest as running nose, sneezing, sore throat. NHS or National Health Service has additionally listed shortness of breath, tiredness, exhaustion body aches, headache, blocked nose, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, feeling or being sick as signs to look out for. Skin irritation and discoloration, gastrointestinal distress, respiratory distress have also been reported by patients. Loss of taste or smell is not indicative of the XE variant as per the understanding thus far. 630 cases of the XE variant have been reported across the world as of April 2022, with the numbers steadily increasing.

What are the precautions one should take?

Precautions are pretty much the same as what the world has been taking in the last 2 years and more. Continuing to wear masks, avoiding crowds, building immunity, maintaining a healthy weight, balanced diet and regular exercise should become our way of life for some more time to come.
Vaccine naysayers should consider altering their stance and take the 2 prescribed doses, given the transmissibility of the XE variant. It is advisable for those eligible for the booster dose to schedule it as soon as possible.

Covid-19 statistics – India

India recorded 796 new coronavirus infections taking the total number of COVID-19 cases to 4,30,36,928. Active cases dipped to 10,889, according to the Union Health Ministry. With 19 fatalities reported, the death toll rose to 5,21,710.