GVN Statement on SARS-CoV-2 Variant BF7

SARS-CoV-2 variants continue to appear worldwide. There is some concern about the variant BF7, shorthand for BA., which reportedly is spreading in China. BA. is part of the Omicron lineage of SARS-CoV-2 and had been indicated as a potential variant of concern. Recent data from the US CDC and other agencies in other countries, however, show that the incidence of BA. is waning, compared to other variants, like BQ.1, BQ1.1, and XBB, a recombination variant of BJ.1 (BA. and BA.2.75 (BA. A particular concern is the variant XBB1.5, which carries the mutation F486P. This mutation, together with others, confers escape from neutralizing antibodies and increased binding to ACE2. It is therefore possible that the finding of BA. in China may be due to the low baseline immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in the Chinese population. The GVN and its scientists constantly assess new variants of concern, but so far, the evidence is that currently available vaccines authorized in the US, EU, and other countries are protective against hospitalization, death, and long-term sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection.