Where does the new Omicron variant come from? What are its symptoms and how severe can it get? The new omicron XE variant has triggered fears of a new wave and questions such as these are bound to flood your mind.
We have compiled facts from reliable scientific sources to avoid misinformation and help you navigate through another global outbreak.
Outbreak of Omicron XE
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Omicron XE variant was reported for the first time on January 19, 2022, in the United Kingdom, with more than 600 positive cases.
In India, the first reported case of the Omicron XE variant was in Mumbai on April 6, 2022. As of April 13, 2022, India has reported two cases of the Omicron XE variant.
The variant was first detected in a 50-year-old woman who had arrived from South Africa in February and in a 67-year-old man who returned to India from London in March.
What is the Omicron XE variant?
The Omicron XE variant is a recombinant virus. A recombinant virus is created when two different viruses’ genetic markups are combined to create a new virus. The XE variant is a recombinant of the original Omicron strain. It formed as a result of the genetic recombination of two SARS-CoV-2 strains: BA.1 (the original Omicron strain) and BA.2 (the more infectious related strain).
Symptoms of the new Omicron XE variant
One of the most distinguishing features of this variant is that the infected experience a loss of smell and taste, which was uncommon among Omicron patients.
- Sore throat
- Cough and cold
- Skin irritation and discolouration
- Gastrointestinal problems
Other symptoms are similar to those seen in other COVID variants. These include ?
Patients who face severe infections may also experience cardiac problems, palpitations, and nerve problems. The preliminary signs of Omicron XE infection are fatigue, dizziness, and headaches followed by sore throat, muscle discomfort, and fever. If you are exhibiting these symptoms and suspect an infection, isolate yourself immediately and get tested.
Can the new XE variant cause a new wave?
Since the first reported case of the new variant in Mumbai, the rate of positive Omicron XE variant cases in India has been minimal. Hence the likelihood of a new wave is also questionable.
Research suggests that this strain may be 10% more transmissible than other Omicron variations, but hasn’t displayed any severe characteristics yet. As of now, disease severity and the extent of transmission remain uncertain.
Multiple variants were discovered during the pandemic’s lifespan, the majority of which died out rapidly. Although the variant XE has been detected across the United Kingdom since January 2022, the severity of the reported cases is an encouraging fact. This suggests that the risk may be minimal and that those who were previously infected by Omicron still have enough circulating antibodies to protect them against the new variant.
Omicron XE Prevention
The best way to protect yourself from this variant, or any other variant, is to get vaccinated.
So far, there’s no evidence that Omicron XE is any better at evading immunity from previous infections or vaccinations. Furthermore, in children under the age of five, the Omicron XE form was found to be less severe than the Delta variant. Unless it is found spreading quicker, affecting a different demographic, or causing severe disease, it has no public health significance. Do not put off getting booster shots if you are eligible. This variant is still relatively new, and very few studies have been conducted to predict how it would affect an individual. While there is hope that it will be as mild as Omicron or even milder, we must take adequate measures against this global menace.
In conclusion, continue to wear your masks, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently, even if you’ve been vaccinated. It’s important to slow down the spread of the disease as much as possible if we want to stop new variants from emerging.
If you have further queries regarding symptoms that you are currently exhibiting or would like to consult a healthcare specialist for any health concerns, reach out to Ayu Health Hospitals. Doctors at Ayu Health Hospitals have access to telemedicine so that patients can avail consultations via video calls. We also deliver medications and collect samples for lab tests from the comfort of your own home. To book an appointment, visit Ayu Health or call us at 6366100800.