Health officials in China are scrambling to detect variants of the novel coronavirus. More than a third of the Omicron variants detected in the wave of infections swept through China have caused larger outbreaks.
Over the past three months, China detected over 130 Omicron substrains, including BF.7. BF.7 is very good at evading immunity and is believed to be behind the current surge in infections.
Xu Wenbo, head of the National Institute of Virus Disease Control, said last week that China plans to track virus centers around three municipal hospitals in each province. There, samples are taken from sick walk-in patients and deceased patients.
Wenbo has confirmed that 50 of the 130 Omicron versions found in China have had outbreaks.
He said the country is working to create a national genetic database so it can monitor how each strain evolves and study the impact each mutation may have on public health. rice field.
Each new infection creates new opportunities for the virus to mutate. As his COVID spread rapidly in China, he infected 248 million people (almost 18% of China’s population) with the virus in his first 20 days in December.
The country of 1.4 billion people completely reversed its “No COVID” policy earlier this month. The sudden policy shift sparked China’s largest outbreak of COVID infections since the start of the pandemic, leaving hospitals flooded and ambulances turning back and unable to care for some critically ill patients.
In China, about 37 million people may have been infected with COVID-19 on December 20 alone.
Vaccine coverage is high, but booster levels are low, especially among older people. Many have weakened immunity because they were vaccinated more than a year ago.
Experts warn that partially immune populations like China are likely to adapt the virus and create new mutations.
Dr. Stuart Campbell-Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, compared the virus to boxers who “learn to evade the skills they have and adapt to evade them.” .
“When we see a big wave of infections, we often see a new variant spawn after that,” says Ray.
As the new variant causes a large wave of infections, especially in China, it is unclear whether those infected will become more ill and get sicker.
Health experts warn that there is no biological reason for the virus to become milder over time, and severe illness may continue to spread.
“Many of the mild illnesses we’ve experienced over the past six to 12 months in many parts of the world are not due to changes in the virus, but to the buildup of immunity from vaccination or infection,” Ray said. I’m here.
with post wire