The National Institute of Health (NIH) has issued a clarification that no new variant has yet been detected in Pakistan. Despite concerns from officials about a resurgence of the coronavirus.

The NIH stated in a statement released on Tuesday that rumours regarding the new Covid-19 variant were untrue.

The variant that has been reported in some places is XBB, an old Omicron variant and not the BF.

7 variant, which the NIH explained is growing in China. “No case of BF.7 has been detected in Pakistan so far,” it added.

Health authorities are still concerned about the discovery of new cases in India and China, Pakistan’s two neighbours.

Also Read: Pakistan reports 12 coronavirus cases in 24 hours

BF and XBB. 7 variations

The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that the XBB is an Omicron virus variant. Early research suggested that, in comparison to other circulating Omicron sublineages, the XBB variant had a higher risk of reinfection.

New Covid strains are not found in Pakistan, according to the NIH, but have been found in the US, China, and India.

NBC News continued, “The virus that emerged from China around the end of 2019 mutated into the delta variant. Then omicron and its sublineages, which continue to wreak havoc on the world today. BF.7, abbreviated for BA., is a branch of the Omicron variant BA.5 family.

Also Read: Pakistan at risk of encountering new Covid variant from China

NBC News reports that the basic reproduction number, or R0, for BF.7 is between 10 and 18.6. According to this, an infected person has a 10% to 18% chance of spreading the virus to others. Omicron, in contrast, had a R0 of 5.08.

The concerns

Authorities in China and the US are keeping an eye on the two as potential variants of concern. Around 40% of confirmed US Covid-19 cases were XBB. A related strain to the XBB variant is the 1.5 strain.

According to NBC News, the two variants account for 44 percent of cases in the US. Moreover, the variant is feared to have the ability to evade the immunity created by vaccinations and boosters. Which increases the risk of new cases.

Furthermore, according to NBC Boston, who cited a recent study, the XBB is one of Covid-19’s most “immune evasive” variants to date.

India also reported five cases of the XBB.1.5 variant on January 3, according to the Times of India.

The majority of new cases in China, meanwhile, are thought to be of the BF.7 variant. According to reports from the nation, the variant has a greater capacity for infection. It is more transmittable, and has a shorter incubation period.

The BF.7 variant identifies in a number of other nations, including India, the US, the UK. Also several European nations, including Belgium, Germany, France, and Denmark.

Also Read: New models predict at least 1 million deaths in China amid covid surge

The BF.7 variant causes upper respiratory infections, including congestion in chest, fever, sore throat, runny nose, and cough. However, the best defence against any virus wave is vaccines. Even though new strains seem to be much more widespread and powerful than the previous one.

“It is still as important as ever that people come to take up all the doses for which they are eligible as soon as possible.” Dr. Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infection at the UK Health Security Agency, said.

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