The word ‘COVID’ takes me back to the lockdown period when everyone was waiting for the pandemic to be over. Doctors were doing everything possible to save lives, and researchers were trying to develop vaccines. But coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was mutating and spreading like wildfire. So far, in India, coronavirus has affected more than 4 crore people, claimed over 5 lakh lives, and made innumerable families suffer. Just as we thought we had the pandemic under control, a new variant—BF.7—has emerged! But what is the new variant? What are its symptoms? What are its do’s and don’ts? Here’s everything you need to know about COVID Omicron Variant BF.7.
What is the COVID Omicron Variant BF.7?
Just like any other virus, coronavirus keeps changing its characteristics to adapt to its surroundings. This allows a virus to move more effectively from host to host. These mutations create variants and subvariants. BF.7 stands for BA.188.8.131.52. The BF.7 variant is a descendant of the BA.5 Omicron variant. In simple terms, BA.7 is an offspring of the BA.5 strain of COVID-19.
What distinguishes BF.7 from other COVID variants?
Though BF.7 belongs to the family of Omicron variants of coronavirus, it has a few unique characteristics. BF.7 can escape the immunity developed after vaccination, thus infecting even vaccinated individuals. It has a basic reproduction number (RO) of 10 to 18.6. Meaning? An infected person can transmit the virus to an average of 10 to 18 people—highly contagious. It has a shorter incubation period, and patients can test negative even after 7-10 days of infection.
Should we worry about Omicron Variant – BF.7?
Since its discovery, Omicron BF.7 strain has been found in many countries, including China, the US, European countries, and India. Considering the high transmission rate of BF.7, the number of people it can infect is the primary concern. This makes early detection and isolation even more critical.
Symptoms of Omicron BF.7
People with weak immune systems and pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to develop severe illnesses due to BF.7 variant. The symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
Are You at Risk?
Individuals with weaker immune systems, such as children, older adults, pregnant women and those with comorbid conditions (heart disease, diabetes, asthma, etc.), are at a higher risk of infection. Unvaccinated people and smokers are also at risk of getting infected.
What Steps to Take to Prevent BF.7 Infection?
It’s always better to be safe. Start with simple precautions. Get COVID vaccination and booster dose as these help avoid complications that might arise due to infection. The important preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 are:
- Use masks and sanitizer
- Regular hand washing
- Avoid crowded places
- Social distancing
- Get a booster dose
- COVID test: Get a COVID test immediately and isolate yourself if you come in close contact with an infected person. Sometimes, COVID-19 infection can be asymptomatic. So, if you’ve been to a crowded place lately or have travel plans in the pipeline, get a test.
- Don’t ignore symptoms such as cold, cough and fever, and visit a doctor immediately. Get regular health checkups to keep track of your overall health.