XE variant of interest, severity yet to be established; docs caution against laxity

The World Health Organization recently issued a warning of the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the XE recombinant, as it may be more transmissible than any other subvariant so far.
Representative image
Representative image

CHENNAI: However, the variant has not been declared a variant of concern and severity is yet to be established. “The transmissibility, severity and change in the existing protocol of management and treatment decides if a subvariant is of concern. More transmissibility makes it a variant of interest as the cases are likely to increase. XE is 10 per cent more infectious than Omicron BA.2 as per laboratory studies. We’re yet to establish research evidence based on human studies,” said Dr Srinivas Rajagopala, senior consultant, interventional pulmonology and sleep medicine, Kauvery Hospital.

He added that due to vaccination and people’s exposure to the virus makes it possible for infection rate to be low and not severe in nature. “But people with comorbidities, and elderly persons should take precautionary booster dose as they have a higher risk of getting affected,” he pointed out.

Experts say that the other variants XA, XB, XC, and XD have already been reported and were not of major concern. “Vaccines are effective against the Omicron variant and thus, likely to remain effective against this sub-variant too,” said senior virologist Dr Jacob John.

Meanwhile, the state health department emphasises that the need to test, track and follow safety protocols. Health secretary J Radhakrishnan said that there are no cases of XE reported in Tamil Nadu. “There’s no need for panic over this. Cases of COVID-19 are low in the State but the public should follow all the safety protocols and not become complacent,” he stated.

10 new cases in Chennai, TPR remains at 0.5 pc

Tamil Nadu recorded a total of 22 cases of COVID-19, taking the total number of cases in the State to 34,53,033. Chennai saw 10 cases, while Coimbatore and Chengalpattu reported 3. Cuddalore, Kanyakumari, Sivagangai, Thanjavur, Tiruvallur and Trichy reported one case each. Currently, there are 237 active cases present in TN. With 20,971 persons being tested in the past 24 hours, the overall TPR in TN stays at 0.1 per cent, while the TPR in Chennai and Chengalpattu stood at 0.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively.

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