What is the Omicron Hybrid Strain XE all about?

April 28, 2022

Neha Borah

Coronavirus, COVID Guidelines, Covid vaccine, Covid-19, How to prevent Covid infection, Hybrid mode of learning, Lockdown, Novel Virus, Omicron, Pandemic, schoolsandcolleges, XE Variant

Are we still talking about Coronavirus? Unfortunately, yes. The main question is will the virus ever leave this planet? The answer to that is uncertain. The world has been experiencing a consistent amount of terror. While one variant leaves, the other arises. It’s like a phoenix that can never be tamed, but in a devastating way. In several instances, it has disrupted the flow of everyday activities while manipulating the monotonous daily routine. We have been thrown into some unfortunate circumstances since 2020 that we can’t seem to get out of. 

As we began to imagine a better world without the presence of the deadly virus, reports of the XE variant made us flabbergasted all over again. Several schools and institutions have closed in the last two days following positive coronavirus test results among citizens. The Omicron hybrid strain XE has been circulating in some parts of the country like Maharashtra and Gujarat. The first case was detected in Mumbai, involving a woman who had travelled from South Africa. The good news is that she was asymptomatic and recovered thereafter. It has hindered our everyday activities while putting the population in a stressful state of mind. Although not much is known about this strain, it has been confirmed that Omicron seems to be more transmissible than Delta. It has been advised that proper precautions should be taken to prevent an outbreak of the disease. Even though the number isn’t alarming yet, prevention is always better than cure!

On Wednesday, Mint reported that the daily Covid cases stood at 299, while the positivity rate had risen to 2.49 per cent. 501 new cases have been reported in the last two days, bringing the number of active cases to 814. A newly discovered strain of Covid-19 may be more transmissible than any strain seen before, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 


Know about the XE Variant

The Omicron variant ‘XE’ is a mutant hybrid of two previous versions, BA.1 and BA.2, which have shook our entire existence. People suffered, lost their loved ones, dealt with loss and so much more. There have been a few hundred reports and confirmations since it first was detected in the UK on January 19. In comparison to the BA.2 sub variant, which is already the most contagious; XE has a 10 per cent advantage in community growth rate. Its extremely high transmissibility means that, in the near future, XE could become a dominant strain.

WHO noted that less than 600 sequences have been reported or confirmed since the XE recombinant was first detected in the UK on January 19. According to early estimates, it is estimated that the community growth rate is 10% higher than BA.2; however, there is a requirement for broader analysis. 


The symptoms of the variant

XE has been linked to symptoms such as running noses, sneezing, and sore throats, according to the UK Health Security Agency. The original strain of the virus generally caused fever, coughing, and a loss of smell and taste. As well as shortness of breath, tiredness, an aching body, headache, sore throat, blocked or runny nose, diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick, the NHS includes shortness of breath, feeling tired or exhausted.

By March 22, there had been 637 cases of XE detected in England. New Zealand and Thailand have also reported the XE variant. XE has shown a “variable growth rate,” according to Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor for the UK Health Security Authority, over the time it has been monitored. Hopkins added that no firm conclusions can be drawn about the transmission of the disease, its severity, or its effectiveness.


Students amidst this new sub variant

Just when we stopped hearing much about the virus, this most recent variant came to the forefront. The offices resumed offline operations, various businesses began shifting gears, and students heard about the offline learning mode. The situation was a tad different from the usual monotony but it was leading towards the similar direction. Packing their bags, studying the calendar and revising the dates, the students were all ready to meet their peers and relive the classroom experience. Regardless of whether they attended school or were on the verge of graduating from university, updates on offline modes of conduct hovered everywhere. But now it is interrupted by the same/old stressor.

Although classes are being held physically, there is tension between the parents and students. In Noida and Ghaziabad, some schools have decided to opt out of the offline mode, but others are continuing it in the same way. It is impossible to predict what the future holds. The variant might diminish or the schools and colleges might resume the online mode. Right now, the population is concerned about the prolonged existence of the virus and wonders whether it will ever disappear.

Let’s wrap up!

We were just beginning to imagine a better world without the deadly virus when reports of the  XE variant startled us all over again. Vaccination or previous infection can induce an immune response that protects us against Covid-19, which mainly targets the spike protein. The spike protein in XE is the same as in BA.2, so our protection against XE should not be significantly reduced. For as many people as possible, a vaccine safety strategy that slows the emergence of mutated variants and recombinants is imperative. These measures reduce the number of susceptible hosts that are exposed to such events.


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