Covid: India isolates BF.7, studies begin : The Tribune India

Covid: India isolates BF.7, studies begin

Govt says January ‘very critical month’

Covid: India isolates BF.7, studies begin

A worker at Gurugram oxygen plant. PTI



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, December 28

In a major breakthrough, Indian scientists have isolated BF.7, the subvariant of Omicron, and embarked on studies to generate evidence on the need for an additional booster.

Top sources said BF.7, currently driving the Covid-19 surge in China and some other nations, had been isolated. “Studies have started to determine how well Indian vaccines and drugs work on BF.7,” sources said, adding the government was expecting a surge and was ready for any eventuality. The government is taking January 2023 as a “very critical month” when cases could rise significantly. “BF.7 has a reproductive value of 16, making it extremely transmissible. Evidence from past waves tells us that it takes 30 days since detection of cases in China for us to encounter a major surge. We are prepared and our medical infrastructure would be adequate as long as the variant infecting people is less virulent than Delta,” official sources said today. The Tribune has, meanwhile, learnt that the National Institute of Virology, Pune, has isolated BF.7 and commenced studies to determine whether India would need additional vaccine doses or an additional booster (apart from the current two-dose primary schedule and a precaution dose).

Several western countries have begun administering additional doses already. Indian studies of vaccine efficacy on BF.7 would be significant as the currently available evidence on the need for an additional booster is only for mRNA vaccines. Worldwide about seven studies have been done so far to test the need for additional booster.

WHO has concluded that taken together, these studies show some short-term benefit of an additional booster dose of mRNA vaccine in health workers, those over 60 years of age or with immunocompromising conditions.

“The data to support an additional dose for healthy populations are limited; preliminary data suggest that in younger people, the benefit is minimal. The data suggest that for highest risk groups there is a benefit that supports the administration of an additional booster dose,” WHO says.

-ve report for China arrivals mulled

  • The government is expected to make negative RTPCR reports mandatory for arrivals from five Covid-affected countries and Hong Kong from next week
  • Sources said RTPCR negative reports 72 hours prior to arrival in India would be required from the next week for arrivals from China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore

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