Three cases of Omicron BF.7 strain have been detected in India so far. When viruses mutate, they create lineages and sub-lineages — like the main trunk of the SARS-CoV-2 tree sprouting branches and sub-branches. The BF.7 is the same as BA.188.8.131.52, which is a sub-lineage of the Omicron sub-lineage BA.5.
BF.7, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5, is highly responsible for the Covid 19 surge in China. According to the news agency, BF.7 has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.
Owing to the threat of increasing cases of this variant in India, the government has started issuing guidelines for the same. “ln view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants,” read a letter from Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to all states.
The subvariant has already been detected in several other countries, including the US, the UK and European nations such as Belgium, Germany, France and Denmark. The high degree of spread in Chinese cities — including the capital city of Beijing — is also being attributed to a “low level of immunity”, possibly due to previous infections.
BF.7 accounted for more than 5% of US cases and 7.26% of UK cases in October. Scientists in the West were watching the variant closely; however, there was no dramatic increase in the number of cases or hospitalisations in these countries.
According to another news agency, a study published in ‘Cell Host and Microbe’ journal earlier this month reported that the BF.7 sub-variant has a 4.4-fold higher neutralization resistance than the original D614G variant — meaning that in a lab setting, antibodies from a vaccinated or infected individual were less likely to destroy BF.7 than the original Wuhan virus that spread worldwide in 2020.
The Union government has also asked states to send samples to labs for genome sequencing, which can help identify the variant or sub-variant. India reported 129 fresh infections over the last 24 hours, as reported on Wednesday, and the number of active cases currently stands at 3,408. One death was recorded over the last 24 hours.