Hyderabad: The hybrid recombinant strains of SARS-CoV-2 including XE, which was reported in Mumbai on Wednesday, XD and XF, are unlikely to create much impact in Telangana, public health officials, geneticists and experts tracking new Covid variants said.
The XE is a hybrid lineage of BA.1 and BA.2 variants that were sequenced and verified by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The variant has the spike and structural proteins from BA.2 variant but the remaining part of its genome is derived from BA.1. While it is being said that XE is far more transmissible than BA.1 and BA.2, experts here point out that the Indian population has already developed a significant natural immunity from both the Omicron variants (BA1 and BA2) after the third Covid wave between December 2021 and January 2022.
In Telangana, during the third Covid wave that was driven by Omicron, 70 per cent of the infections were due to BA.2 variant, while the rest were due to BA.1. “I believe that the population in Telangana and even other parts of the country has already developed natural immunity from Delta and Omicron variants. People need not panic just because a new variant has been reported,” says Dr M Vidyasagar, Distinguished Professor, IIT-Hyderabad, and member of the noted researchers who developed the SUTRA Mathematical Model of Pandemic Projections.
Dr Vidyasagar pointed out that the immunity profile of Indians against Covid is different from people in China, other South Asian countries and Europe, where BA.2 is active. “More than vaccine-induced immunity, data has shown that natural immunity is far more effective in containing Omicron variants. China and several other countries adopted the Zero-Covid policy through massive lockdowns. However, this was not the case in India, which has resulted in a large section of the population acquiring natural immunity,” he pointed out.
At present, the recombinant lineages of SARS-CoV-2 broadly fall into two categories including a hybrid of Delta and BA (Deltacron) and a hybrid of BA.1 and BA.2 variants of Omicron. Apart from XE, researchers have reported XD, which is a hybrid of French Delta and BA.1 and XF is a hybrid of UK Delta and BA.1.
Noted virologist from Imperial Department of Infectious Diseases, UK, Dr Tom Peacock on social media platform Twitter explained about recombination of the virus. “Recombination occurs when two related viruses co-infect a cell and the viral replication machinery accidentally switches from one genome to another resulting in a mixed genome,” he said.
Now you can get handpicked stories from Telangana Today on Telegram everyday. Click the link to subscribe.