Eminent virologist says no need to worry about the 'XE' variant of Omicron

Eminent virologist says no need to worry about the 'XE' variant of Omicron
Representative imageIANS
One of India's top virologists, Gagandeep Kang, said on Thursday that going by what we know about the 'XE' variant of Covid-19 till now, it doesn't seem there is too much cause to worry.

The variant spreads a little faster, but it doesn't seem to cause a more severe disease, she told IANS.

"We are more worried about severe diseases, and if that's not happening, I think we should track it, but not worry too much about it," Kang said on the reported detection of the 'XE' variant in Mumbai.

However, the INSACOG has denied the detection of XE variant, saying that this variant does not correlate with the genomic picture of the 'XE' variant.

INSACOG is the forum set up under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to study and monitor genome sequencing and virus variation of circulating strains of Covid-19 in India.


Speaking to IANS, Kang said that it is for the INSACOG to say whether it is really XE, but we shouldn't be worried about it as sooner or later we are likely to see the XE variant in the country.

She emphasised that whenever we see a new variant, the important thing is to note what implications it has for the country -- is it going to start a new wave, are people going to fall seriously sick etc.

Talking about reports claiming that the XE variant has 10 per cent more transmissibility as compared to Omicron, Kang said that these are findings from the UK, because they do a lot of sequencing.

"For them, it is possible to look at the secondary attack rate, i.e., if one person is infected, how many persons will get infected from that primary source and also how fast will that happen. Only in the UK, finding such data is possible, but in India we don't even notice," she said.

Commenting on a Covid booster dose for all in India, Kang said that there is no need for booster for all.

"Recently, sero-survey has indicated that about 80 per cent of children who have not been vaccinated are sero positive. It means that 80 per cent of the population has exposure to the virus. If 80 per cent has already been infected or exposed to the virus, along with two doses of vaccine, why should booster be given to those people who are generally healthy?

"Administering a precautionary doses to those who are at the risk of severe diseases makes sense, but not for a healthy population."

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