Is the new strain of COVID already in India ?
We have been watching news that the new strain of COVID is due to affect the world in June 2022. The variant is a mutant of the now familiar Omicron variant of the Corona virus. But is it already in India – two months ahead of the predicted time?
A news article states that on April 9, 2022 a fully vaccinated, Mumbai man tested positive for Omicron XE strain of the corona virus, after a low grade fever. He has been found to have the Omicron XE strain. This is a combination of the Omicron BA4 & Omicron BA5 strains.
Is it a variant of concern?
A virus strain that is more infectious, likely to cause breakthrough or reinfections in those previously vaccinated or infected are variants of concern to the WHO. The WHO watches these viruses for severity, evading diagnostic tests or resisting antiviral treatment; hence the possibility of causing more morbidity or mortality or both.
Infectiousness of the XE strain : As we know now, this variant is 10% more likely than the Omicron variant that Indians are familiar with.
Likelihood of causing breakthrough infections : Yes, from available information, it looks like it can appear in vaccinated people.
Reinfections : This is being studied. We have to wait to know more.
So as to whether it is a variant of concern, the best advice is ” watch and wait”.
What do we know about the XE Omicron strain ?
- It is a travelling strain and has reached Thailand and perhaps New Zealand from its native UK shores,where it was first detected in January 2022 .
- It can start off as a headache, with fatigue, dizziness, ear pain, muscle soreness, fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, bloating, and loss of appetite.
- Unlike its parent Omicron strain, the XE can cause a loss of smell and taste.
- As is common with its grandfather COVID strain, it can cause fever ,sorr throat ,cough ,and cold ,skin irritation and discolouration,gastrointestinal distress etc.
- Severely infected people might show palpitations, nervous tissue damage.
- What can we do ?
- Get vaccinated if not already.
- Get the booster shots if eligible.
- Social distancing
- Wear a mask
- Don’t let our guard down.