The Indian SARS-CoV2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG), a network of national testing laboratories set up by the Government of India, confirmed the first case of Omicron sub-variant XE in the country, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday, 3 May.
However, health experts have said that there is no need for the public to be in a state of panic as the variant is yet to show any signs of very high transmission or cause any severe symptoms.
This testing result comes just weeks after an unknown variant infected two persons from Maharashtra and Gujarat.
While medical experts have reportedly said that the new sub-variant is 10 percent more transmissible than the existing dominant BA.2 variant of Omicron, there is no research data to establish that infection from XE is any different from infections caused by other Omicron sub-variants.
The discovery of a new sub-variant of Omicron comes just months after the country suffered a third wave of COVID-19 in January.
As of now, cases are rising in 12 states across the country, where the governments have made it mandatory to wear masks and follow COVID protocols.
Despite the emergence of a new sub-variant, it is Omicron BA.2 that continues to be the dominant variant in the country.
According to the INSACOG bulletin, the XE variant is a recombinant, wherein the coronavirus is a mixture of two strains bound to emerge as one single virus transmitting among people.
The Indian Express quoted a government official as saying, "Less than a handful of recombinant variants have been detected in the country so far. All of them are from geographically disparate regions. No cluster formation has been seen."