Hyderabad: Allaying fears about BF.7 variant of coronavirus, a prominent scientist on Friday (December 23) said it is a sub-variant of Omicron strain and that India need not worry too much about its severity on the population. Speaking to PTI, Rakesh Mishra, Director, Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS), Bangalore, however cautioned that wearing face masks and avoiding unnecessary crowds is always advisable. The former director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology further said China has been witnessing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases as the neighbouring country has not passed through different waves of the infection that India had faced. He said,
This is a sub-variant of Omicron. Main features will be like Omicron except some small changes, there is no big difference. Most of us have gone through the Omicron wave. So, we don’t have to worry about it. Essentially, it is the same virus.
China is experiencing a surge in infections due to its “zero-Covid policy”, under which authorities block apartment buildings or even cordon off a neighbourhood once a resident tests positive, causing great inconvenience to the people, the scientist said.
mR Mishra added that the Chinese population is not exposed to natural infection and they did not use the time to vaccinate the elderly people.
“So what is happening to those guys is, since they’re not vaccinated, their symptoms are severe. Younger people still do not have any problem. But among older people who were not vaccinated, it is spreading very fast,” he said about the situation in China.
According to him, most Indians have acquired hybrid immunity which means immunity developed through vaccines and also natural infection protecting them from different COVID-19 variants.
The scientist said the existing vaccines in India are good to prevent or thwart different Omicron variants also as several studies indicated that even in the big wave of Omicron earlier this year, India did not see many hospitalisations.
In view of the sudden spurt, in cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on December 20, wrote a letter to all the state and Union territories.
He requested them to ensure that as far as possible samples of all positive cases, on a daily basis, are sent to designated INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortium) genome sequencing laboratories that are mapped to the states and UTs.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.