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XE Variant Of COVID Not More Severe Than Omicron: Dr Gagandeep Kang

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The new XE variant of Covid-19 is not a matter of concern as it is not likely to cause any more severity than other sub-variants of Omicron (BA.1 and BA.2) did, Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor at Christian Medical College in Vellore, said on Thursday. "Variants will come because people are travelling. Of what we know of the variant (XE) is that it is not a point of concern," Kang said.

"We were worried about BA.2 but it did not cause more serious disease than BA.1. XE does not cause more serious disease than BA.1 or BA.2," she said on the sidelines of a panel discussion organised by John Hopkins Gupta-Klinsky India Institute.

She added that in a vaccinated population XE variant is not something to be bothered about.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a warning against XE, a new variant of Omicron first detected in the UK.

It has been suggested that it could be more transmissible than any Covid strain so far. XE is a combination or recombinant of both sub-variants (BA.1 and BA.2) of Omicron.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has said it has detected the first case of XE infection in Mumbai.

However, the Union Health Ministry said that the sample which is being said to be 'XE' variant was analysed in detail by genome experts of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), who have inferred that the genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with the genomic constitution of XE variant.

When asked about her views on administering booster dose to the population below 60 years, Kang said that the country doesn't have enough data to establish the effectiveness of booster doses among people younger than 60 years.

Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Balram Bhargava echoed a similar view on booster dose and said, "I agree with Dr Kang.

"The panel discussion was held on the theme 'Applying Lessons Learned from COVID for a Stronger Health System'.Speaking during the panel discussion, Dr Bhargava said that the greatest thing India learnt from Covid was that it became self-confident.

"We got self-confidence that our health care system can deliver," he said.

He acknowledged that there was a need to strengthen the primary healthcare system to tackle such situations in future."We need to invest more in the primary health care system and impart good training which is much needed. We need good MBBS doctors with proper training," Bhargava said.

Story first published: Friday, April 8, 2022, 15:31 [IST]