Dr. Shan-Lu Liu, who studies viruses at Ohio State University, said many existing Omicron variants have been discovered in China, including BF.7, which is extremely adept at bypassing immunity and is believed to be the current wave causes.
Experts said a partially immune population like China’s puts particular pressure on the virus to change. Ray compared the virus to a boxer who “learns to dodge the skills you have and adapt to get around them”.
A big unknown is whether a new variant will cause a more serious disease. Experts say there is no inherent biological reason why the virus should get milder over time.
“Much of the mildness we’ve experienced in many parts of the world over the past six to 12 months is due to immunity built up, either through vaccination or infection, not because the virus has changed in severity,” Ray said.
In China, most people have never been exposed to the coronavirus. China’s vaccines are based on an older technology that produces fewer antibodies than messenger RNA vaccines.
Given that reality, Dr Gagandeep Kang, who studies viruses at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, said it remains to be seen whether the virus will follow the same pattern of evolution in China as it did in the rest of the world after vaccines. came out. “Or,” she asked, “will the pattern of evolution be completely different?”
Recently, the World Health Organization expressed concern about reports of serious illnesses in China. Around the cities of Baoding and Langfang outside Beijing, hospitals are out of intensive care beds and staff as severe cases rise.
China’s plan to monitor the virus centers around three city hospitals in each province, where samples will be collected from walk-in patients who are very sick and all those who die each week, Xu Wenbo of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention said at a briefing on Tuesday.
He said 50 of the 130 Omicron versions discovered in China had led to outbreaks. The country is creating a national genetic database “to track in real time” how different species evolved and what the possible public health implications were, he said.
However, at this point, there is limited information on genetic viral sequencing coming out of China, said Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
“We don’t know everything that’s going on,” Luban said. But it is clear: “the pandemic is not over yet.”
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