Everything to know about Omicron variant BF.7, responsible for the ongoing COVID onslaught in China

The COVID variant Omicron emerged in 2021, which was a matter of concern owing to its virulency and has now evolved into multiple subvariants

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Months after easing the COVID-19 restrictions, China has fallen under the massive grip of the COVID cases around the country, the hospitals are overwhelmed, crematoriums are running out of space and overburdened, while the daily COVID numbers are surmounting to over 10,000.

Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist, has estimated that over 60 percent of China and 10 percent of Earth’s population are likely to be infected over the next three months with deaths likely in the millions.

As per Feigl-Ding, the Chinese Communist Party’s goal is “let whoever needs to be infected, infected, let whoever needs to die, die. Early infections, early deaths, early peak, early resumption of production.”

Which COVID variant is responsible for the ongoing slaught of the virus in China?

The COVID variant Omicron emerged in 2021, which was a matter of concern owing to its virulency and has now evolved into multiple subvariants.

According to health officials, Chinese cities are currently hit by highly transmissible omicron strain mainly BF.7, which is the main variant spreading in Beijing and is contributing to a wider surge of Covid infections in China, while BF.7, short for BA., is a sub-lineage of the omicron variant BA.5.

Reportedly, BF.7 has the strongest infection ability out of the other omicron subvariant in the entire country, which is quicker than others in transmitting and has a shorter incubation period, and has a greater capacity to infect people who have already been infected with COVID previously or vaccinated or in cases both.

BF.7 is believed to have an R0, or basic reproduction number, of 10 to 18.6. This means an infected person will transmit the virus to an average of 10 to 18.6 other people. Research has shown omicron has an average R0 of 5.08.

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Second wave and third wave of COVID:

After a tight fight for over two years, the world saw a dip in the cases, all credit to the efforts of scientists to bring the vaccines that helped ease down the cases rapidly, although that dip didn’t remain for long.

Viruses are known for their ability to mutate and form new variants, and the COVID virus did the same. In the second wave, the virus that dominated most of the cases globally was the most dangerous of all – the Delta variant.

The next wave was carried out by another highly mutated version of COVID-19, called the Omicron variant, prompting researchers to study it who went on to find that Omicron has mutated further, giving rise to more virulent sub-variants.

BF.7 has been detected in several other countries around the world including India, the US, the UK, and several European countries such as Belgium, Germany, France, and Denmark.

Despite showing aggressive nature and causing destruction in China, the BF.7 variant of COVID has fairly remained steady elsewhere in the country. For example, in the US it was estimated to account for 5.7 percent of infections up to 10 December, down from 6.6 percent the week prior.