ISLAMABAD: The National Institute of Health (NIH) on Tuesday clarified that no case of Omicron’s sub-variant BF.7 is detected in Pakistan so far.
According to the spokesperson of NIH, since its appearance, a total of 29 cases of XBB (Omicron) have been reported from Pakistan and made it clear that this is not the BF.7 variant which is spread in the neighboring country.
Clarifying the news circulating about the new COVID variant, the spokesperson said that such news was not accurate as the reported variant in some areas of the country is XBB which is an old variant of Omicron.
Based on observations, BF.7 is more contagious than other sub-variants of Omicron but less virulent. Infection with BF.7 has a much lower risk of hospitalization and severe Covid. However, BF.7 infection can be severe in those with high blood pressure, kidney diseases, diabetes, or other comorbidities and in those aged over their sixties.
According to health experts, BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant – the dominant variant circulating globally of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus. It has a 4.4-fold higher neutralization resistance than the original D614G variant.
This means, in a laboratory setting, antibodies from a vaccinated or infected individual are less likely to destroy BF.7 than the original virus first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.
This sub-variant also has a shorter incubation period and a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.
The XBB.1.5 variant of Covid is actually a sub-variant of XBB. It is made of a combination or say mutation of BA.2.75 and BA.2.10.1.
BF.7 is a BA.184.108.40.206 mutation of Omicron BA.5. The variant BF.7 has an R346T mutation in the spike protein of the virus and can evade antibodies originally derived from the Wuhan virus, particularly vaccines such as the Sinovac.
The XBB.1.5 variant is said to be more dangerous as it is more contagious than BF.7 and its cases are 56% more than BF.7, XBB.1.5 scales up to 120 percent faster than BF.7 and XBB.1.5 is not only affecting the vaccine and the body’s antibodies but also weakening it.
The symptoms of BF.7 infection are similar to those of other Covid-19 variants, such as fever, sore throat, runny nose and cough. Some patients may also experience diarrhoea and vomiting. While the variant may not cause severe complications, early detection and isolation of cases is crucial, because it is spread more easily.