Alert!!  The virus is back again.

The COVID-19 variation Omicron has swiftly developed into a number of subvariants since it first appeared in late 2021. The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed their concern about a new subvariant known as Omicron BF. (also known as Omicron BF.7), which is responsible for the current COVID infection epidemic in China and is reawakening concerns in other countries like India.

Cases of the BF.7 infection have also been found in India and the UK, the US, and European nations including Denmark, France, Germany, and Belgium.

It is being questioned what this new variation is, its symptoms, and whether it would start a new wave in India.

What is Omicron BF.7?

A branch of the Omicron variation BA.5 is the Omicron BF.7 virus. According to reports from China, among all the omicron sub-variants, sub-variant BF.7 is the most infectious and highly transmissible. Compared to other variants, it takes less time to incubate and spread.

Additionally, the Omicron BF.7 has the ability to re-infect those who have already contracted COVID-19 and can even infect those who have got the vaccinations.

Omicron versions BA.1, BA.2, and BA.5 lack the immune escape capability that the BF.7 sub-variant possesses. If an infected individual is exposed to a non-infected, the variation can replicate and infect 10 to 18.6 people at once, according to specialists. The Delta’s reproduction number (RO) was between 5 and 6, whereas BF.7’s RO ranges from 10 to 18.

The BF.7 variation had 4.4 times more neutralisation resistance than the original Wuhan virus, according to research in the journal Cell Host and Microbe. This indicates that the vaccination-induced antibodies are insufficiently potent against the pathogen.

What are the symptoms of the BF.7 variant?

The symptoms of BF.7 infection are largely upper respiratory infections and quite different, such as a runny nose, cough, fever, and sore throat. These symptoms are similar to those of other omicron sub-variants. In people with weakened immune systems, the infection could be more severe.

Covid Omicron BF.7 Causes of Accelerated Spread

According to research, the R0 value of this mutant is around 10 to 18.6, meaning that those who are sick can spread the disease to 10 to 18.6 others nearby.

A specific mutation, R346T, has been found in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in the BF.7 variation (a protein on the surface of coronavirus that allows it to attach to and infect the cells).

It has been determined that this mutation, which is also present in variety BA.5 (the father of BF.7), increases the virus’s ability to evade neutralising antibodies produced by prior infections or vaccinations. This indicates that the vaccination-induced antibodies are insufficient to protect against this virus.

Covid Omicron BF.7 Precautions and Safety Measures

It is that time of the year, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are just around the corner and it is equally important to make sure that you follow all the safety measures to stay away from this severe variant. The most fundamental measures to stop a possible spread are hand washing, using face masks, and keeping social distance.

Although seasonal illnesses like cough, cold, and flu are widespread in India during these months, you should never disregard these symptoms. Get a COVID test done right away and practise self-isolation if you or someone nearby has a cough, cold, or other symptoms for a long time.

Covid Omicron BF.7 who is at higher risk? 

On the top of this list comes the people who are not vaccinated. Here are some more categories of people who are at higher risk: 

  • Children
  • Elderly citizens
  • Pregnant women 
  • Diabetics 
  • Cancer patients
  • People with kidney or heart diseases

Final thoughts 

Just like the previous versions of Covid 19 virus the BF.7 variation, has an extremely quick transmission rate. A person with this virus, even if they are asymptomatic, can spread it to 10 to 18 others. 

Even if the data show a low fatality rate for this variant and there aren’t many hospitalisations or deaths in India, only time will tell what will happen in the coming days, weeks, or months. However, we must exercise greater caution and adhere more strictly to COVID-appropriate behaviour (use masks, follow social distancing, and maintain hand hygiene).

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Which vaccine is best against Omicron?

The updated Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine boosters are targeting the omicron variant. So, they can be the best available options.  

Q. How long after Omicron do you get Covid?

2 to 14 days after getting Omicron, you can get affected by Covid. 

Q. How long will I test positive for Omicron?

After a positive test result, you may continue to test positive for some time after. You may continue to test positive on antigen tests for a few weeks after your initial positive. You may continue to test positive on NAATs (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) for up to 90 days.

Q. What does a COVID headache feel like?

Moderate or severe pain on both sides of the head.