China’s COVID-19 surge raises odds of new coronavirus variants

Funviralpark 2 years ago 0 3

Could the COVID-19 surge in China unleash a new coronavirus variant into the world?

Scientists don’t know, but they worry that it might happen. The one out there now could resemble a subspecies of Omicron. It could be a combination of stocks. Or something completely different, they say.

Dr. Stuart Campbell-Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, said, “China has a very large population with limited immunity, and that’s why we’re seeing an explosion of new subspecies. It’s like an environment where you can be.”

The coronavirus can mutate with each new infection, and the virus is spreading rapidly in China. 1.4 billion countries Abandoned “zero COVID” policy. Overall reported vaccination coverage is high, but booster levels are low, especially among the elderly. Domestically produced vaccines have proven to be less effective against severe infections than Western messenger RNA versions. Many were administered more than a year ago, meaning their immune system is weakened.

result? Fertile soil for viruses to mutate.

“Big waves of infections are often followed by new variants,” said Ray.

About three years ago, the original version of coronavirus spread from China around the world, eventually being superseded by the Delta variant. Then Omicron And their descendants continue to haunt the world today.

Dr. Shan-Lu Liu, who studies viruses at Ohio State University, said China has detected many existing Omicron variants. BF.7It is very adept at evading immunity and is believed to be responsible for the current surge.

People queue for treatment at a fever clinic in Shanghai, China, December 24, 2022.

VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Partially immune people like China are putting special pressure on the virus to change, experts say. “Learning to adapt to do” was likened to a boxer.

One big unknown is whether the new variants cause more serious disease. Experts say there is no inherent biological reason for the virus to calm down over time.

“Many of the mild cases experienced over the past six to 12 months in many parts of the world are due to the accumulation of immunity from vaccination or infection, not because the virus has changed,” Ray said.

In China, most people have never been exposed to the coronavirus. Chinese vaccines rely on older technology that produces less antibodies than messenger RNA vaccines.

Given these realities, it remains to be seen whether the virus will follow the same pattern of evolution as it did in China, said Dr. Gagandeep Khan, who studies viruses at Christian Medical College in Berol, India. . A vaccine is available. “Or will the pattern of evolution be something completely different?”

Recently, the World Health Organization has expressed concern about reports of severe illness in China. In the Beijing suburbs of Baoding and Langfang, hospitals are running out of intensive care beds and staff as the number of critically ill patients surges.

China’s plan to track the virus will center around three municipal hospitals in each province, where samples will be taken from very ill walk-in patients and everyone who dies each week, said Xu Wenbo of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. said to be collected. Briefing Tuesday.

He said 50 of the 130 Omicron versions detected in China have caused outbreaks. The country is creating a national genetic database to “monitor in real time” how different strains are evolving and their potential impact on public health, he said.

But so far, information from China on gene sequencing of the virus is limited, said Jeremy Louvain, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

“We don’t know everything about what’s going on,” Rubin said. But clearly “the pandemic is not over”.

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