Covid Is Back But Here’s Why We Need Not Scare Ourselves Of The New Variant That’s Ravaging China

Dheeraj DeeKay
5 min readDec 24, 2022


Photo by Kate Trifo on Unsplash

Cases in China are skyrocketing and although they have been doing so for months now, scaremongering in India has only begun recently. Let me not go into why that might be and instead stick to the virus and its shenanigans.

Reports from China indicate BF.7 has the strongest infection ability out of the Omicron subvariants in the country, being quicker to transmit than other variants, having a shorter incubation period, and with greater capacity to infect people who have had a previous COVID infection, or been vaccinated, or both.

To put this into context, BF.7 is believed to have an R0, or basic reproduction number, of 10 to 18.6. This means an infected person will transmit the virus to an average of 10 to 18.6 other people. Research has shown Omicron has an average R0 of 5.08.

The high transmission rate of BF.7, taken with the risk of hidden spread due to the many asymptomatic carriers, is understood to be causing significant difficulty in controlling the epidemic in China.


BF.7 has been detected in several other countries around the world including India, the U.S., the UK and several European countries such as Belgium, Germany, France and Denmark.

Despite BF.7’s immune-evasive characteristics, and worrying signs about its growth in China, the variant seems to be remaining fairly steady elsewhere. For example, in the US it was estimated to account for 5.7% of infections up to Dec. 10, down from 6.6% the week prior.

While the UK Health Security Agency identified BF.7 as one of the most concerning variants in terms of both growth and neutralization data in a technical briefing published in October (it accounted for over 7% of cases at that time), the most recent briefing says BF.7 has been de-escalated due to reduced incidence and low growth rates in the UK.

So this mutant variant which is ravaging China is not doing (or not able to do) similar damage elsewhere. Now, why is that?

Now we are venturing into speculation so alert your brain and rational self. Keep your reasoning powers sharp.

We, and by that I mean our bodies, gain immunity to infection by prior knowledge about the same. This knowledge might come from multiple sources but if I have to stick to SARS-CoV-2 then since this is (or was) a novel virus whose information our bodies did not have, the only known ways to get that information was to either get infected in real (a risky option) or be inoculated by a vaccine. Now, most of the world today has gone through one of these (many in fact have gone through a cocktail of both, some multiple times). This is where it gets interesting and the world at large starts to differ from what went in China in comparison. After the first wave of infection China by and large had no infectious waves. It controlled the spread of the pandemic with great success while the world struggled to keep pace with multiple waves and mutated variants. For instance, India, US and UK saw almost all waves of covid variants. What this did to our immune systems is, except in China, most of the people’s bodies in the rest of the world have significantly more knowledge (and updated knowledge) about covid subvariants than those in China. The new variant is more dangerous and lethal than the Omicron variant but since our bodies have knowledge about Omicron they are better placed to fight the new variant than those in China who have basically negligible knowledge (or outdated information about their enemy). That is probably what explains four cases of this new variant in India that were treated at home in July! This is a crucial context that the media is missing from its scaremongering. Politicians are all doing their own bidding but the media should have known and done better alas, it is Indian media, what can one expect from it than the absolute trash it produces every day.

Please note, this is not to say you have nothing to worry about and such. A virus can infect differently to different people. You may be able to handle a certain viral load but a bit extra and maybe your body’s immune system might not be capable of handling it. Then there are old people and those with compromised immune systems. Also, viruses mutate all the time. It is best to avoid them than to provide them Petri dishes to grow into something scarier. So do mask up and follow all the covid appropriate behaviour that we all are very familiar with by now.

What could governments do better?

I seriously do not like or advise arbitrary lockdowns. Why do we enforce lockdowns anyway? To stop the spread of the virus? That’s not reason enough to snatch people’s freedoms. It is the state’s duty to fend for us and protect our well-being without interfering in our day-to-day life. The point and necessity of lockdowns and complete shutdown of economic activity arise when hospitals run out of beds to treat seriously ill patients. This is when risk-benefit analysis rationalises meddling in people’s lives against their discomfort. But all this can be handled better so that the public knows why the government is doing what it is doing. I’m referring to more transparency here. How? By now, after going through multiple covid waves, we have all sorts of information and learnings. We could come up with a metric saying if X number of hospital beds get occupied then the first round of covid measures will be implemented (or mandated) — think of mandatory masking, fines if not masked and such. 2x of bed occupancy and stricter measures like a stop on mass gatherings like movies and concerts. 3x and then ban on travel etc. Please note I’m no expert and I’m not equipped with all the data that government has. What I’m suggesting are mere blueprints of how this can be done and not what exactly needs to be done. Measures could be different and in different sequences but what we need is more transparency. The government needs to publish well in advance their strategy and what they will do and on what basis (for example hospital beds as I suggested which is a good measure of the severity of infection). Also, daily publish hospital bed occupancy numbers, number of active infections, recovery rate etc. This will help the public from speculation and unnecessarily alarming. And also better prepare them for what’s to come. More importantly, they will also act responsibly on their own.



Dheeraj DeeKay

I Listen. I Speak. I Write. I Do. And That’s Why I Am. Storyteller at large! Oh yeah, also a Programmer, Full Stack Developer when at desk.