Covid-Xe variant: INSACOG lab tests to confirm XE variant in India

A central government laboratory that is part of INSACOG, the pan-Indian consortium of 38 laboratories tasked with monitoring genomic variation in SARS-CoV-2, is conducting further testing to confirm the presence of the XE variant in India.

“It will take 24 to 48 hours to confirm the presence of the XE variant,” said NK Arora, head of the Covid working group within the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

Gujarat last week reported its first case of variant XE after a Mumbai man tested positive for Covid-19 during his visit to Vadodara. The 67-year-old contracted the XE subvariant of the Omicron variant in Gujarat a month ago, state officials said on Saturday.

The Gujarat Biotechnology Research Center detected XE, after which the sample was sent to a laboratory in Kolkata for confirmation. That report was received on Friday.

However, Arora said more testing was needed. “While the state lab has determined it is XE, samples have been sent to INSACOG’s core lab and the results will be in in a day or two,” he said.

The NTAGI head also said there was no need to panic as none of the suspected cases had serious symptoms and no clustering had been identified. “Both suspected cases – a previous case from Mumbai and (the one in) Gujarat – had low-grade fevers and did not require hospitalization,” he said. Experts from INSACOG met on Friday to review the situation.

However, Arora warned against dropping the guard and advised people to continue to follow Covid-appropriate behavior, including masking.

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