Omicron Variant BF.7 Behind China Surge Detected In India

At least four cases of the Omicron subvariant BF.7, which is driving the current surge of COVID-19 cases in China, have been detected in India, NDTV reports.

Indian officials said there was no need to panic but advised people to wear masks in public.

BF.7, which is short for BA.5.2.1.7, is a subvariant of the Omicron variant BA.5. Based on the reports from China, the sublineage is thought to have a stronger immune-escape capability, as well as a shorter incubation period and faster transmission rate.

The basic reproduction number (R0), or the number of people one person can infect, for BF.7 may be between 10 to 18.6 in Beijing. The R0 number for the Delta variant, which was dominant last year, is 5 to 6.

However, the R0 number in China may be high due to low levels of immunity, as the country has been applying a zero-COVID policy until recently.

BF.7 infection causes similar symptoms to the other Omicron sublineages, such as fever, cough, and sore throat. In rare cases, patients may experience vomiting and diarrhea.

The BF.7 has also been detected in the United States, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and other European countries.

In October, the UK health officials called BF.7 sublineage one of the “most concerning variants in terms of both growth and neutralization data at present.” However, the technical briefing from November says that BF.7 growth rates in the UK were low.

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