At the time of writing, B.A.5 is still the most common omicron variant in Norway, but BF.7 is on the rise – it is now detected in 1 in 10 virus samples in Norway analysed by the National Institute of Public Health (FHI).
“We now have a situation where there is a lot of infection throughout Europe, but we have vaccinated the vast majority (of people in Norway),” Assistant Health Director a the Norwegian Directorate of Health Espen Rostrup Nakstad said to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
BF.7 and a number of other variants have structural changes that can affect the vaccine people have taken and the protection the vaccine offers.
“This means that we have to expect that the vaccine may not protect as well as it has done in the past, at least when it comes to infection. But it is not certain that it will have a big impact on whether you will become seriously ill or not,” Nakstad added.
He added that new coronavirus variants emerge naturally.
“This is a completely natural development. What you see in Europe now is that there are changes that are coming because the virus is trying to circumvent the immunity effect that we have acquired. It is completely natural for the virus to make such changes,” Nakstad explained.
Health authorities are now asking people in the risk group, both for the flu and coronavirus, to get vaccinated. They also remind people to wash their hands and keep a distance from people if they feel sick.
Nakstad also warns that, in addition to the new omicron variant, there are also a lot of flu cases in Norway this season.
“There could, of course, be a lot of sick leave if we get a wave of (coronavirus) infection and flu at the same time in the Winter.
“But so far this Autumn, it looks like these (infection) waves we have seen in Europe have not been very big, and it looks like they have subsided in multiple places.
“So, we are probably in a situation where our general resistance and population immunity are actually starting to strengthen – even though we see more virus variants,” Nakstad concluded.
READ MORE: How to get the flu vaccine in Norway