Scientists on alert as new Covid strain tears through ‘multiple countries’

A new Covid variant is ripping through “multiple countries”, with experts fearing it could be even more transmissible than the BA. 5 Omicron strain.

Named BF. 7 – short for BA. 5.2.1.7 – the new variant is spreading faster than most other variants of interest that scientists are currently tracking in the US.

While it accounted for 1.7 per cent of sequenced infections in America last week, it now represents 25 per cent of cases in Belgium, while Denmark, Germany and France have each recorded 10 per cent of the world’s identified cases, Fortune reports.

Dr Stuart Ray, vice chair of medicine for data integrity and analytics at Johns Hopkins’ Department of Medicine, told the publication the US Centres of Disease Control (CDC) recently named it as a separate strain after cases hit one per cent, with that figure expected to grow.

New COVID-19 variant’s spread draws concern from CDC

It turns out that Biden’s lingering wariness was warranted as yet a new variant has emerged, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the last two weeks the BF.7 has doubled its incidence nationally from 0.8% to 1.7%.  The largest growth has been in the Northeast United States, Region 1, where the incidence is now over 3%.

 
 

“Scientists are taking notice of BF.7 because it’s making headway in an increasingly crowded field of Omicron subvariants,” Fortune reports. “For months they’ve watched BA.2.75—dubbed Centaurus by the Twitterverse—as a variant of interest with potential to surge this fall. But this week, BF.7 surpassed it.”

Kevin Kavanagh, M.D., the president and founder of the patient advocacy organization Health Watch USA, has been closely following the pandemic since it first emerged. “This variant is obviously outcompeting our current major variants, but it is too soon to say whether it will have a significant impact on the United States,” he told Fierce Healthcare. “Currently, regions of our country have different rates of vaccination and a different history of exposure to past variants. Thus, the impact seen in one region does not translate to another, and it is anyone’s guess if BF.7 rapid growth will continue.”

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