Two highly contagious subvariants of Omicron — BF.7 and BA.5.1.7 – with greater transmissibility have been found in several provinces of China. As more cases of these two subvariants have swept to more areas of China, the experts have warned about their “fast-spreading speed”. 

While several cases of BA.5.1.7 have been detected in Shaoguan city of Guangdong Province in China, BF.7 has been detected in Shaoguan and Yantai cities and is slowly sweeping more provinces.

Two Highly Contagious Omicron Variants with ‘Fast-Spreading Speed’ found in China


The Chinese government believes that the latest Covid-19 infections flare up in Shaoguan city have two major transmission chains that have been caused by Omicron variants — BA.5.1.7 and BF.7. Both the subvariants are highly infectious with a fast-spreading speed.

Li Shujian, deputy director of a Chinese disease prevention and control center, said that two variants are “highly contagious” and can easily evade previous immunity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier warned against the BF.7 variant of Omicron, saying that it expected it to become the new dominant variant.

BF.7 is a subvariant of Omicron BA.5. Global Times quoted experts as saying that the BF.7 variant of Omicron has enhanced immunity evasion which means that it can infect people even if they have been infected with Covid-19 before or have been fully vaccinated. However, it doesn’t mean the vaccines are ineffective against BF.7. The vaccines and the drugs used to treat Covid patients are still as effective in preventing severe cases and deaths from the virus.

According to the reports, BF.7 has been spreading in Belgium, Germany, France, Denmark and England.

Meanwhile, Shanghai and other big Chinese cities, including Shenzhen, have ramped up testing for Covid-19 as infections rise, with some local authorities hastily closing schools, entertainment venues and tourist spots. Chinese authorities reported 2,089 new local infections for 10 October, the most since 20 August.

As of Monday, 36 Chinese cities were under various degrees of lockdown or control, affecting around 196.9 million people, versus 179.7 million in the previous week, according to Nomura.

China is the world’s last major economy still enforcing strict zero-Covid measures, which aim to stamp out chains of transmission through border restrictions, mass testing, extensive quarantines, and uncompromising snap lockdowns.

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