Symptoms, causes, precautions and risk of infection

Overview

Since the emergence of the COVID-19 variant Omicron in late 2021, it has rapidly evolved into multiple sub-variants. A sub-variant, Omicron BF.5.2.1.7 (also referred to as Omicron BF.7), driving the current wave of COVID infection in China has left the World Health Organization (WHO) “deeply concerned”, raising fear around the world, including India, is reviving. .

In addition to the UK, US and European countries such as Denmark, France, Germany and Belgium, cases of BF.7 infection have also been reported in India.

Questions are being asked about what this new variant is all about, what the symptoms are and whether it will spark another wave in India.

What is the Omicron BF.7 variant?

The Omicron BF.7 strain is a subline of the Omicron variant BA.5. Reports from China indicate that the BF.7 subvariant has the strongest infectivity (highly transmissible) compared to other omicron subvariants. It has a shorter incubation period and is faster to ship than other variants.

The Omicron BF.7 also has a greater ability to re-infect people who have previously had a COVID-19 infection and can even infect vaccinated individuals.

What are the symptoms of the BF.7 variant?

Symptoms of infection with BF.7 are similar to those of other Omicron subvariants, primarily upper respiratory tract infection, including nasal discharge, cough, fever, and sore throat. The infection can be more serious in people with weaker immune systems.

What could be the cause of faster spread?

According to studies, the R0 value of this mutant is about 10-18.6, which means that the infected people can infect 10-18.6 people around them.

The BF.7 variant carries a certain mutation ‘R346T’ in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (a protein on the surface of the coronavirus that allows it to attach to and infect the cells).

This mutation, also seen in variant BA.5 (parent of BF.7), has been associated with increasing the ability of the virus to escape neutralizing antibodies generated by previous infections or vaccines. This means that the antibodies from vaccination are not sufficiently effective against this virus.

Who is at higher risk of infection with the Omicron BF.7 variant?

People who are not vaccinated are at greater risk. Also, people with weaker immunity, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with multiple comorbidities, such as uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, kidney or heart disease, are at a higher risk of contracting this infection.

What precautions can be taken to prevent infection with BF.7?

With Christmas and New Year festivities just around the corner, it is more critical than ever to follow COVID-appropriate behavior. Hand sanitizing, wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing remain basic steps to prevent a possible spread.

Although coughs, colds and other seasonal illnesses are common during these months in India, you should never ignore these symptoms. If you or someone close to you has a cough, cold or other symptoms, get a COVID test immediately and practice self-isolation.

Conclusion

BF.7 variant has a very high transmission speed, just like other variants of Omicron. A person infected with this virus, even if he/she is asymptomatic, can transmit the virus to another 10 to 18 people. Although the death rate is not high for this variant according to the data and also in India there are very few cases of death and hospitalization, only time will tell what happens in the coming weeks or months. However, we need to be more vigilant and seriously monitor COVID-appropriate behavior (wearing masks, social distancing, hand hygiene).

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