In the last 72 hours another BF variant was identified in Japan – the BF.7.15 that is also spreading around at rather rapid rate and also seems to be driving disease severity based on observations and the fact that the sequences originated from samples of people hospitalized with disease severity.
The BF.7.15 variant has also been detected in recent sequence samples in China as well along with the BF.7.14 variant.
Early data shows that the BF.7.15 variant has an additional spike mutation G257D and a ORF1a mutation: A1812V.
The spike mutation G257D has also been seen in another worrisome variant called BA.2.3.20.
The various new BF sub-lineages that have emerged in East Asia include the BF.7.14, BF.5.1, BF.5.2 and can be found wreaking havoc in China, Japan, Hong Kong, parts of South Korea and also in Taiwan.
China’s recent COVID-19 outbreak is predominantly led by the Omicron subvariants BA.5.2 and BF.7, which together account for 97.5% of all local infections, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.
The data was based on an analysis of more than 2,000 genomes by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the WHO said.
The agency also said the data was in line with genomes from travelers from China submitted to the global database by other countries and no new variant or mutation of known significance was noted in the publicly available sequence data.
The data comes from a briefing by China’s top scientists to the UN agency’s technical advisory group on Tuesday as concerns grow about the rapid spread of the virus in the world’s No. 2 economy.
The U.N. agency had asked the scientists to present detailed data on viral sequencing, to get better clarity on hospitalizations, deaths and vaccinations.