No new variants emerged from China’s Covid outbreak, study finds


HONG KONG – An analysis of Covid-19 cases in Beijing suggests no new variants. Have emerged from China’s recent outbreak, according to a study released Wednesday.Faced with rare mass unrest after nearly three years of a strict “zero-Covid” policy. The Chinese government lifted most restrictions on Dec. 7.

The sudden change caused the coronavirus to spread over the winter. To a population of 1.4 billion who had barely been exposed.

It raises fears that the outbreak could create a new form of concern. And prompt dozens of countries, including the United States. To impose tests and other restrictions on travelers from China.

But a Chinese-funded study variants  published in The Lancet found that all of the 413 sampled infection. In Beijing belonged to existing forms of Covid. The most common were the omicron subvariants BA.5.2 and BF.7. Which together accounted for more than 90% of local infections.

Samples were randomly selected for genomic sequencing from. A larger group of 2,881 high-quality samples collected. In Beijing from November 14 to December 20, 2022.

George Gao, the study’s lead author and a professor at the Institute of Microbiology. At the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said it was important to investigate whether. Any new forms emerged during China’s outbreak due. To the influence of others such as Delta and Omicron. Course of epidemics.

No new variants emerged from China’s Covid outbreak, study finds

“Our analysis suggests that the two known Omicron subvariants — rather than. Any new variants — are mainly responsible for the current increase. In Beijing and possibly all of China,” said Gao, former director of. The Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a news release

“However, with the ongoing large-scale circulation of Covid-19 in China, it is important that. We continue to monitor the situation closely.

Its findings are consistent with reports from Italy. And other countries that are testing arrivals from China for Covid and sequencing the results. Said Tongai Maponga, of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Researcher in the Department of Medical Virology.

“What they’re detecting in travelers originating from China is simila. To what we already know is prevalent elsewhere. Said Maponga, who was not involved in the Beijing study.

The study was also limited by the fact that China ended mandatory large-scale testing in December. Making it difficult to know the total number of outbreaks. And thus what percentage of total cases the samples represent.

In many other countries. Starting to pick  variants up speed last fall before Covid restrictions were lifted. Beijing and other major cities experienced some of the earliest outbreaks.

Zeng Guang, the former chief epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC, said.A study published in  variants  January by researchers at the University of Hong Kong said it could rise to more than 92% by January 31.

Chinese officials say a dramatic increase during the Lunar New Year holiday period. When millions of people travel to their hometowns to visit family variants  and which began in mid-January, has not

Global fears that a new variant could emerge were compounded by what. The World Health Organization and others said was a lack of information from China about the outbreak. China has defended its data. And criticized the travel system as unscientific and discriminatory.

Chinese officials have released more data in variants  recent weeks, saying hospitals. Have recorded nearly 80,000 Covid-related deaths since early December. Many experts say the true number is much higher, with British forecaster Airfinity estimating 608,000 deaths. From December 1 to January 17.

The Chinese CDC recently reported 3,278 Covid-related deaths nationwide. From January 27 to February 2, nearly half the number from the previous week. It said daily Covid infections peaked at 6.94 million on December 22 and fell to around 24,000 by January 30.

Maponga noted that a new form of concern could yet emerge anywhere in the world. Stressing the need for continuous testing, genomic surveillance and transparent sharing of data.

“As long as it continues to circulate, infecting humans and animals, the variants  virus will. Always develop mutations because that’s the nature of viruses,” he said.

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