GS Paper - 3 (Biotechnology)

A new mutant strain of Omicron has come into the limelight. Global health agency WHO has warned about the ‘XE’ variant of Omicron, which it says is more transmissible than any other variant seen so far during the coronavirus pandemic. In a COVID-19 update issued, WHO said that mutant XE was a recombinant of two strains of Omicron – BA.1 and BA.2.

What this means

  1. This hybrid mutant emerged when a patient was infected by both BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains.
  2. The global health body has also said that the observations regarding this strain are still at a very nascent stage and added that it was continuing to monitor the situation closely.
  3. The XE variant had first been detected on 19 January 2022 in the UK and since then, over 600 sequences have been reported as well as confirmed.
  4. WHO has said that the XE mutation has a growth rate about 10% faster than that of BA.2, which would make it the fastest transmitting mutation.
  5. The third wave of the pandemic, triggered by Omicron between December 2021 and February 2022, saw many more cases, but much less severity in cases that were reported.