Hyderabad (PTI): Allaying fears about BF.7 variant of coronavirus, a prominent scientist on Friday said it is a sub-variant of Omicron strain and that India need not worry too much about its severity on the population.

Speaking to PTI, Rakesh Mishra, Director, Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS), Bangalore, however cautioned that wearing face masks and avoiding unnecessary crowds is always advisable.

The former director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology further said China has been witnessing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases as the neighbouring country has not passed through different waves of the infection that India had faced.

"This is a sub-variant of Omicron. Main features will be like Omicron except some small changes, there is no big difference. Most of us have gone through the Omicron wave. So, we don't have to worry about it. Essentially, it is the same virus," he said.

China is experiencing a surge in infections due to its "zero-Covid policy", under which authorities block apartment buildings or even cordon off a neighbourhood once a resident tests positive, causing great inconvenience to the people, the scientist said.

Mishra added that the Chinese population is not exposed to natural infection and they did not use the time to vaccinate the elderly people.

"So what is happening to those guys is, since they're not vaccinated, their symptoms are severe. Younger people still do not have any problem. But among older people who were not vaccinated, it is spreading very fast," he said about the situation in China.

According to him, most Indians have acquired hybrid immunity which means immunity developed through vaccines and also natural infection protecting them from different COVID-19 variants.

The scientist said the existing vaccines in India are good to prevent or thwart different Omicron variants also as several studies indicated that even in the big wave of Omicron earlier this year, India did not see many hospitalisations.

In view of the sudden spurt, in cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on December 20, wrote a letter to all the state and Union territories.

He requested them to ensure that as far as possible samples of all positive cases, on a daily basis, are sent to designated INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortium) genome sequencing laboratories that are mapped to the states and UTs.

Let the Truth be known. If you read VB and like VB, please be a VB Supporter and Help us deliver the Truth to one and all.



New Delhi, Feb 6: Jammu and Kashmir has been turned into Afghanistan by the BJP which is using bulldozers to demolish the homes of poor and marginalised under the ongoing anti-encroachment drive, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti alleged Monday.

Addressing a press conference here, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief appealed to Opposition leaders in the country not to be a mute spectator to the "atrocities being committed by the BJP".

She alleged the BJP is using its brute majority to weaponize everything and "bulldoze" the Constitution.

"Palestine is still better. At least people talk. Kashmir is becoming worse than Afghanistan the way bulldozers are being used to demolish homes of people. What is the purpose of demolishing small houses of people," she said.

Mehbooba said that according to the government even the centuries-old Shankaracharya Temple and cantonment built by the erstwhile Maharaja are also on encroached land.

The PDP leader said Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha may claim that the houses of poor will not be touched during the anti-encroachment drive but his message is not being heard on the ground as dwellings even with tin sheds are being demolished.

She said the initial call for 'Ek Samvidhan, Ek Vidhan, Ek Pradhan' has given way to 'one country, one language, one religion' where there is no Constitution.

Voice of anyone speaking about the Constitution is being crushed, she said.

"Was removal of Article 370 in accordance with the Constitutional provisions?," she asked.