As it turns out, Biden’s continued caution was justified because a fresh variation has not yet been identified, per statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The nationwide incidence of the BF.7 has doubled in the past two weeks, rising from 0.8% to 1.7%. The Northeast United States, Region 1, has experienced the fastest growth, and the incidence there is already over 3%.
Because BF.7 is succeeding in a field of Omicron subvariants that is becoming more crowded, scientists are paying attention to it, according to Fortune. They have been keeping an eye on BA.2.75—dubbed Centaurus by the Twitterverse—as a potential interest variety with the potential to spike this fall for months. However, BF.7 outperformed it this week.
“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”
Kevin Kavanagh, M.D., the president and founder of the patient advocacy organization Health Watch USA
“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.”
Kevin Kavanagh told Fierce Healthcare
BF.7 was initially identified by the CDC as a BA.5 subvariant. But because of its quick expansion, the government has now given it an own category.
Stuart Ray, M.D., the vice chairperson of medicine and data integrity at Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine, notes that BF.7 has grown rapidly in some countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany and France.
Ray tells Fortune that “the same growth advantage in multiple countries makes it reasonable to think that BF.7 is gaining a foothold.” He tells the magazine that it’s most likely more transmissible than BA.5, and subvariants “don’t grow relative to their parent unless they have an advantage.”
The new version is being discussed the day before the start of autumn in the United States, and COVID-19 outbreaks in the past have shown that the fall and winter are the most contagious seasons for the virus. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, yesterday saw 413 COVID fatalities in the United States and 60,454 new cases.
Biden may have taken his cue from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who heads the World Health Organization and last week said that the end of the pandemic was “in sight,” noting weekly deaths from the virus were at the lowest levels since March 2020.
“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic”, “We are not there yet, but the end is in sight.” He added: “If we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty.”
Ghebreyesus, who heads the World Health Organization
Kavanagh says that the emergence of new COVID-19 variants “is continuing evidence that herd immunity is not possible. With the high mutation and infection rates of SARS-CoV-2 we will continue to see viral evolution designed to avoid both natural and vaccine immunity. As we adapt, so does the virus. We must keep our immunity as high as possible and do everything we can to avoid reinfections with the concomitant risk Long COVID that can occur even in the young with mild disease.”