Union Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, on Tuesday, 12 April, chaired a meeting with the key experts and officials of the country on the new ‘XE variant’ of COVID-19, which has been detected in India.
He also reviewed the cases of COVID-19, and directed the officials to boost ongoing monitoring, surveillance of new variants and cases.
Mandaviya further asked officials to constantly review the availability of essential drugs and medicines required for COVID-19 treatment. He emphasised that the ongoing vaccination drive must be carried out at full pace and all eligible should be vaccinated.
The meeting was attended by Dr VK Paul, member, Health, NITI Aayog, Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary,Health, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, Dr Balram Bhargava, DG, ICMR, Dr N K Arora, NTAGI and other senior officials of the Health Ministry.
XE Variant in India
The Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation had on Wednesday, 6 April, indicated that the city had detected its first case of Omicron's new sub-variant, XE. However, the Union Health Ministry soon issued a clarification, saying that the "present evidence does not suggest the presence of the new variant."
On 9 April, health officials in Gujarat had said that the state had detected the first case of the XE variant after a man who belonged to Mumbai tested COVID-19 positive in Vadodara.
The World Health Organization stated on 6 April that the recombinant COVID XE variant is a particular cause for concern because it has a higher transmissibility rate than BA.2 Omicron.
"The XE recombinant (BA.1-BA.2) is being tracked as part of the Omicron variant. This recombinant was first detected in the United Kingdom on 19 January and a few hundred sequences have been reported and confirmed since," the WHO had said.
But it added that "early estimates based on limited preliminary data suggest that XE has a community growth rate advantage of about 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however this finding requires further confirmation."