China’s New Covid-19 Wave: Experts Warn of Impending Crisis with XBB Variant

2023-05-29 12:47:51

When China’s chief health advisor predicted, last week, that his country would witness a new peak in coronavirus cases, reaching 65 million cases per week in China by next month, some health experts sounded the alarm.

China is facing a new wave of Covid-19 due to a new variant that appeared last month, called “XBB”.

Epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, an expert in respiratory diseases, was among the first to confirm the ease of transmission of the new variant, nearly six months after Beijing abruptly ended its strict “zero Covid” strategy.

Since switching to the “live with the virus” policy in early December, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stopped updating weekly infections. But the sudden relaxation of anti-pandemic protocols also led to an estimated 37 million new infections per day, weeks later.

By January, experts said they believed nearly 80 percent of China’s population of 1.4 billion had already been infected.

A new wave of infections began in April, but this time with a new variant, XBB, which Dr. Chung’s modeling revealed was expected to cause 40 million infections per week by May, then to rise to 65 million in June.

And while Chinese health officials estimated that the wave had already peaked in April, the number of new infections recorded between May 15 and May 21 increased four times in four weeks.

Magazine transmits time “Although only mass testing can detect the extent of the disease, the population has gained some immunity from the previous wave,” said Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Public health officials are trying to downplay the seriousness of this second wave. It seems that the Chinese have learned to live with the virus,” Huang adds.

Epidemiologist at Deakin University in Australia, Catherine Bennett, believes that the new wave “tests the effectiveness of China’s vaccines,” adding that Beijing must ensure that new vaccines are updated.

“With the virus continuing to spread in China along with general immunity weakening, there is still the possibility of a new, more dangerous sub-variant emerging, although the probability is much lower now,” Bennett warns.

According to Bennett, the recent mutations did not differ much in genetic makeup from the Omicron variant, noting that the symptoms of infection are relatively simple, which she considers a somewhat reassuring indicator.

But the other factor affecting the outlook for the future of the epidemic for China is its willingness to share information, according to experts.

Researchers are skeptical about the official numbers announced by the Chinese government for people with corona.

Recent data on funeral numbers held in China for the period from October to December 2022 has raised speculation that the country has not yet determined the true extent of the spread of infection in the first wave.

Vincent Pang, assistant professor at Duke-NUS College of Medicine in Singapore, told TIME. Data on the spread and impact of COVID-19 will only be useful if it is shared with others on a global platform, so that countries can conduct their own risk assessment, stressing that “infectious diseases know no geographical borders. No one is safe until we are all ready and safe.” “.

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