New Omicron sub-variant driving COVID surge in China, now in India, may wreak havoc
The BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron has a high capacity for causing reinfection, even infecting those who are vaccinated. It is likely to cause severe illness for those with weaker immune systems
Even as China continues to reel under a deadly surge in COVID-19 infections attributed to the BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron, four cases of the same were reported in India on Wednesday.
Since 2019, when the disease emerged, several variants of the coronavirus have evolved and taken a toll across the world, including the Omicron which emerged in October last year. This variant has since spawned sub-variants with varying intensities of infection.
BF.7 has been detected in many countries, including India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, France, and Denmark.
China is seeing a massive surge in daily cases due to BF.7. On Tuesday, it reported 3,049 new cases.
China, incidentally, has a high vaccination rate of 235.5 doses per 100 people as per the WHO dashboard.
The BF.7 variant, a subvariant of the BA.5, has high transmissibility. As per a recent study, it has a 4.4-fold higher neutralisation resistance than the original D614G variant, suggesting that the sub-variant has a high capacity for causing reinfection, even infecting those who are vaccinated.
The variant is believed to have a reproduction number, or R value, of 10 to 18.6, which means a person infected with BF.7 is likely to transmit the virus to between 10 and 18.6 other people.
Experts believe that it is not the higher transmissibility or immune evasiveness of the BF.7 variant that led to the increase in cases in China; rather, an immune-naïve population drove the numbers.
In India, however, a recombinant variant called XBB is the most common variant, accounting for 65.6% of all cases in November.
The symptoms of the BF.7 variant include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. The variant is likely to cause severe illness for those with weaker immune systems.