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Covid Variant XE spreads 10 times faster than Omicron : Dr Naresh Purohit

Bhopal 09.04.2022. The third wave of Covid-19 is practically over in India and overall normalcy has returned, but these developments should not delude the health authorites into assuming that the pandemic is a thing of the past. Given the current global scenario, the multiple omicron variants XE in particular could fuel the fourth wave . Hence there is a need to bring back mask mandate and covid norms, said Dr Naresh Purohit, Advisor-National Communicable Disease Control Programme.
Speaking at a seminar on Go Corona organised by the Bhopal School of Social Sciences – Senior Epidemiologist Dr Purohit said that
according to WHO, a new strain of the Omicron variant, XE, first detected in the UK, appears to be 10 times more transmissible than previous strains of the coronavirus.
Omicron fuelled the third wave in India, though the fatality rate was very low as compared to the Delta-triggered second wave that claimed lakhs of lives last year. XE’s higher transmissibility suggests that it could become the most dominant strain sooner than later.
He said that the global health body has warned that Covid-19 remains a public health emergency of international concern and it is too early to reduce the quality of surveillance.

Pandemic Control Expert Dr Purohit said that XE is a recombinant variant of the Omicron strain that’s a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 subtypes. Recombinant mutations emerge when a patient is infected by multiple variants of a virus. Frequent changes in genomic structure are part of the natural life course of the viruses and everyone should exercise appropriate barriers with regular mask use

He added, “The new mutant XE emerged for the first time in mid-January 2022 in a few European countries. Britain’s health agency said that 637 cases of the XE variant have been reported in Britain so far. The Shanghai wave exceeded 20,000 new cases and is driven by XD and XE recombinants.”

Principal Investigator for National Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme – Dr Purohit stated that India, one of the world’s worst-hit countries in the first two years of the pandemic, needs to be well prepared for a possible outbreak of XE. The lifting of Covid- induced restrictions is a step in the right direction, but the apparent reduction in testing is likely to impact the country’s capacity to promptly detect emerging variants.

He cautioned that several countries in Asia and Europe are witnessing a sharp uptick in Covid cases. India seems to be bucking the global trend as of now, but past experience indicates that the situation can quickly spin out of control if adequate surveillance is not maintained.

He said that the importance of Covid-appropriate behaviour and booster shots cannot be overestimated.
He stressed upon treading with caution, rather than pressing the panic button, should be the way forward.

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