BF.7 is Omicron with mutations, won't lead to severe disease: Experts
The current Covid surge in many countries including China is believed to be driven by Omicron sub-variant BF.7.
NEW DELHI: The current Covid surge in many countries including China is believed to be driven by Omicron sub-variant BF.7. India has also so far reported four cases of this variant that includes two from Gujarat and two from Odisha.
Unlike China, the new substrain of coronavirus has not affected India disastrously even as the first case of this variant was detected months ago. However, the Centre has directed all states and Union Territories to remain cautious and ramp up the genome sequencing to track the variants.
The BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5, which, Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, Co-chairman, National IMA Covid taskforce, calls 'great-grandson of Omicron'. "BF.7 is a great-grandson of Omicron, which has a greater ability to infect previously infected or vaccinated people than the original Omicron. This property is called immune evasiveness. It essentially is the same virus as Omicron, but with additional mutations... There is no indication that it causes more severe disease," he said.
Dr Jayadevan said that after Omicron was spotted in November 2021 in South Africa, it covered the globe in just one-and-a-half-month. India saw BA.1 version first, followed by BA.2, which caused the third wave in January-February 2022. "Since then, BA.2's sons, daughters and grandchildren are circulating in India but have not caused any large waves."
Giving credit to high vaccination coverage and naturally acquired immunity among those who survived past Covid-19 infection, Dr Jayadevan said that when Western countries suffered under the subsequent BA.5 version of Omicron, most parts of India did not witness a proportionate rise in BA.5-linked cases. "Covid-19 is constantly mutating, the RNA strand of the virus replicates and will make mistakes resulting in mutations, which can introduce important changes, helping the virus to adapt or survive better and increase the ability of the virus to spread faster," said Public Health Expert and Director, Bone and Joint Institute, Fortis Escort Hospital Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra. He said that studies across the globe have established that being a subvariant of Omicron, it is highly infectious and spreads faster than other variants. "We have observed the increasing trends of joint pain, upper body pain, URI and vertigo," he said, adding that as "no study till now has linked these symptoms with the new variant so we can't say that these are the symptoms". IANS