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Covid-19: China records 65 million weekly cases in new Covid wave

A fresh wave of Covid-19 infections has hit China, and by the end of June, the country might be seeing as many as 65 million new cases of the virus each week. At a recent symposium on biotechnology held in Guangzhou, respiratory illness expert Zhong Nanshan offered this ominous forecast. Zhong’s estimation offers a unique look into the possible effect of the most recent omicron variety, XBB, which has been the driving force behind a rebound of cases all around China since the end of April.

XBB is expected to infect 40 million people every week by May end, rising to 65 million by June. After Beijing lifted Covid Zero restrictions, the virus spread quickly throughout China’s 1.4 billion people. Beijing took these moves six months ago.

Infections caused by XBB are projected to reach 40 million every week by the end of May, reaching a high of 65 million one month later, as stated in a study that was published in the media. This comes after Beijing abolished the Covid Zero limitations, letting the virus to spread fast throughout the country’s 1.4 billion citizens.

This news comes roughly six months after Beijing took these actions. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention ceased publishing its weekly data earlier this month as a result of the shift away from eradicating the virus and toward living with its effects. This has left many people with uncertainties over the actual impact that Covid-19 has had in China.

According to Zhong’s estimation, the severity of this most recent wave of illnesses will be much lower compared to the last wave that swept over China during the end of 2018 and into January. During that time period, a new omicron sublineage most likely infected 37 million individuals every day, which overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums and caused locals to race for limited supplies of fever medicine.

As a direct reaction to this newly discovered risk, China is working hastily to augment its vaccine stockpile by developing fresh vaccinations that are directed especially against XBB. Two of these vaccinations have already been granted provisional clearance by the country’s drug authority, and the clearance of an additional three or four is anticipated in the near future. “We can lead the pack internationally in developing more effective vaccines,” Zhong added. “We have the ability to do so.”

Recent advice from an advisory panel to the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that the COVID-19 booster doses for this year should be modified to target one of the XBB types that are now in the majority. The production of antibody responses to the variations XBB.1.5 or XBB.1.16 should be the goal of new formulations. In addition, alternative formulations or platforms that induce neutralizing antibody responses against XBB lineages should also be taken into consideration.

The panel also proposed that the original COVID-19 strain not be included in any future vaccines. This recommendation was based on the findings that the strain is no longer circulating in humans and that vaccinations targeting it yield “undetectable or very low levels of neutralizing antibodies” when used against other strains that are presently circulating.

Manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine, such as Pfizer/BioNtech, Moderna Inc., and Novavax Inc., are already working on producing versions of their vaccines that target XBB.1.5 and other strains that are presently circulating in the population. In June, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States is planning to host a conference at which independent experts will debate the strain compositions of COVID-19 injections that will be available later this year. Vaccine makers will be asked to update their shots after the strains have been chosen.

It is still unknown how successful these new vaccinations will be in preventing the further spread of XBB in China as the country prepares for a fresh wave of XBB illnesses. It is quite evident that the battle against COVID-19 is not yet won, given that millions of new cases are anticipated each week.

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