Remain cautious, not over-anxious, says eminent virologist Dr T Jacob John, cutting through the noise in India, around the BF-7 off-shoot of the Omicron variant that is reportedly wrecking havoc in China.

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The BF-7 is an off-shoot of BA 5 of the Omicron variant family, that is “not known to be a killer”, Dr John told businessline, pointing to India’s tryst with the variant in the middle of this year.

India had seen a slight increase in cases in the middle of 2022, he said, and it was caused by the said variant. So, if it is the offshoot of the same variant that is creating trouble in other parts of the world, he said, it would require a cautious response and not an anxious one.

Dr John’s advice comes even as the Centre said two per cent of inbound travellers on a flight would be randomly tested at airports, on arrival. This is to start from 10 am on Saturday (December 24).

Expressing concern on the conflicting data coming out on China, Dr John said the real picture on mortality is not clear. In fact, on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation chief, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had also expressed concern on the evolving situation in China, calling for more information on the disease severity, hospitalisation and ICU-admission. China has stepped up its vaccination programme, WHO experts said, including collaborating with mRNA vaccine makers to source products and vaccinate its population.