Jump to Topics

‘New Covid variant in India since July, no need to panic’

‘New Covid variant in India since July, no need to panic’

Though BF.7, which was reported five months ago, has not thrived in the country, doctors say precautions must be taken
Covid variant BF.7, which was reported five months ago, has not thrived in the country, doctors say precautions must be taken
Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K

Following the spike in Covid cases in China in recent days, and the spread of the SARS-CoV2 infection linked to the new variant BF.7, concerns have been raised in India too.

But BF.7, which is driving the pandemic in China, is not a new variant for India, says Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer, Maharashtra. “The variant BF.7 is a sub variant of BA.5, which was abundantly seen in Maharashtra and India,” he says. “Though BF.7 was reported in India more than five months ago, it has not thrived in India.”

Agreeing with him, Professor MK Sudarshan, chairperson, Technical Advisory Committee, Karnataka, says that BF.7 has not significantly contributed to the spread of Covid in India. “It was first reported in Gujarat in July 2022,” says Dr Sudarshan. “It was detected in Odisha too. We haven’t seen a spike in cases. However, precautions must be taken.”

Dr Awate says that in April 2022 the genomic sequence reports showed the presence of the variants BA.4 and BA.5 in circulation in India. “These are the same variants that have caused a surge in the UK and Europe,” he says. “These variants haven’t spread rampantly [either] in Maharashtra [or] in other parts of India.”

In a tweet on December 23, top virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang said, “At the moment, India is doing fine. We have few cases, we have had the XBB & BF.7 for a while and they have not driven an upsurge in India. In the absence of an even more highly infectious variant, I do not expect a surge.”

In another tweet, she said, “In India as well, we already have XBB and BF.7 (the 2 being hyped as new monsters). They are, like all Omicron subvariants, very good at infecting people because they escape the immune response that prevents infection, but are not causing more severe disease than delta.”

Still, most experts advise caution.

“Our fingers are crossed and we are not complacent,” says Dr Awate. “We are taking necessary precautions, and giving alerts to our hospital system and laboratories. We are also gearing up with whole genomic sequencing.”

On December 22, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to all Indian states saying that the Centre was maintaining a close watch over the situation. “The spike trajectory of Covid-19 is particularly concerning with respect to Japan, the United States of America, South Korea, Brazil, France, and China where cases are increasing in a sustained manner,” he said.

To minimise the risk of entry of new variants of the SARS-CoV2 virus in India, the central government has directed that two per cent of the total passengers on an international flight shall undergo random post-arrival testing (from December 24 onwards).

Karnataka, Maharashtra covid guidelines

On December 22, Karnataka issued a guideline, strongly advising people (particularly the elderly and those with comorbidities) to wear face masks in all indoor areas and closed places such as pubs, bars, restaurants, cinema halls, buses, flights, trains, metros, shopping malls and offices.

In Maharashtra, a high-level meeting was held on December 22. “In the meeting, it was decided to advise [the wearing of] masks but not make it mandatory,” says Dr Awate. “Senior citizens are urged to stay away from crowds and gatherings, and if they are attending, they must use masks as they are the most vulnerable.”

The third dose advised

According to the Covid-19 advisory issued by the Health Commissionerate, Karnataka, all eligible people should take a precautionary dose of vaccination at the earliest.

Professor Sudarshan told Happiest Health that elderly persons and those with comorbidities who have taken two doses of the Covid vaccines should take the precautionary (third) dose.

“I urge people to go and get boosted,” he said. “The third dose is important as vaccination can prevent hospitalisation and deaths. In case anyone has had a Covid infection, then the third dose can be availed three months after recovery from the infection.”

Share Your Experience/Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Physical activity improves the quality as well as duration of sleep. But exercising too close to bedtime is not advisable
While what causes Bell’s palsy is unknown, use of modern medicine along with holistic approaches could offer quick relief
CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. According to American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Keeping the blood flow active, even partially, extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site. It is an important lifesaving first-aid tool that can be performed by anyone.




Opt-in To Our Daily Newsletter

* Please check your Spam folder for the Opt-in confirmation mail
We use cookies to customize your user experience, view our policy here

Your feedback has been submitted successfully.

The Happiest Health team will reach out to you at the earliest