China rushes vaccines as new XBB virus variants emerge: Reports
China rushes vaccines as new XBB virus variants emerge: Reports || Picture courtesy: Google Images

Beijing, China: Since new XBB virus variants are evolving to overcome the immunity developed after China’s abrupt departure from its “zero covid” policy last year, The Washington Post reported that the Chinese government is rushing to push out vaccines to combat an ongoing new wave of the coronavirus, which is expected to peak in June and infect as many as 65 million people a week.

Leading Chinese epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan reportedly stated on Monday that two new vaccinations for the XBB omicron subvariants (including XBB. 1.9.1, XBB. 1.5, and XBB. 1.16) had received preliminary approval, according to official media sources cited by The Washington Post. Zhong stated at a biotech seminar in Guangzhou that three to four other vaccines will soon be approved, but he gave no further details.

Since China’s strict zero-Covid strategy was abandoned last winter, when up to 85% of the population was unwell, the latest outbreak may be the worst wave of diseases ever documented.

The public health emergency was declared to be over on May 11 despite the fact that the new variations led to an increase in infections in the United States, even though experts have not ruled out the possibility that new variants will lead to another wave of illnesses in the years to come, according to The Washington Post.

Officials in China predict that the latest wave will be less severe, but public health experts think that a robust vaccination booster programme and a ready supply of antivirals in hospitals are crucial to prevent another increase in death among the large senior population of the country.

There will be fewer illnesses, according to a different epidemiologist at the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong. “Even when we think this is a milder wave, it could still be quite a substantial health impact on the community,” the researcher continued. “The severe cases will certainly be less, and deaths will be less, but that could still be a large number.”

The changes have boosted the number of cases since last month, the Beijing Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports, with Covid overtaking influenza as the most common infectious disease over the last two weeks of April.

Health professionals have reassured the public that reinfections have milder symptoms and that hospitals won’t be overcrowded as they were the previous winter. According to The Washington Post, some medical facilities have advised patients who are elderly or immuno-compromised to wear masks and avoid crowded areas.

Even still, limitations like those that were in place during China’s attempt to eradicate all diseases during the zero-Covid era have not been reinstalled, and the majority of people appear to be going about their everyday lives as usual.

The impact, according to Olivia Zhang, 33, a worker at a Beijing amusement park, has not been as significant. However, she said, “But they will only be out of work for a short while before returning to work. Nobody avoids them because they frighten them.

A university in Nanjing is accused of forcing students who test positive to stay in quarantine in the dorms in a number of internet complaints. According to The Washington Post, several students disclosed online that they had placed themselves in self-quarantine while at school to prevent spreading the illness to their home lives.