New Covid wave in China, 65 million cases per week expected in June

Elizabeth Smith

It has not been long since the World Health Organisation (WHO) decided to declare the pandemic emergency over that Covid-19 is raising its head again in China.

According to some Chinese media reports, later picked up by Bloomberg and other outlets, a new wave is underway in the country that is expected to peak at 65 million cases per week towards the end of June. Here is what we know.

The numbers

During a conference held in the city of Guangzhou, respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan presented his predictions on the course of the Covid-19 wave that has been sweeping through China since the end of April.

By the end of May, 40 million people a week will be infected. While the peak will be reached a month later with 65 million cases within seven days. The Chinese government has so far not denied these claims.

Impressive numbers, yet according to local authorities, the resurgence of Covid-19 will have less of an impact on healthcare facilities and the population than last winter in the Asian giant (with the end of the zero Covid policy, between the end of 2022 and February 2023 China was overwhelmed by the virus), when there were difficulties with the supply. And therefore the availability of drugs, with hospitals and crematoria saturated.

Variants and vaccines

The current wave is driven by recombinant sub variants of Omicron Xbb. Whose infection rate according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention has risen. Specifically, from 0.2% in mid-February to 83.6% in early May.

Omicron’s recombinant sub-variants are already known to international health authorities. Xbb 1.5 (nicknamed Kraken), for instance, is one of the most infectious Sars-Cov-2 lines recorded, with two mutations on the spike protein appear to be responsible.

And it is responsible for epidemic peaks even in Western countries. Despite its increased transmissibility, the US CoCs report no particular changes in the pathogenicity of the virus.

With regard to the protection provided by vaccines, the data available to date indicate that boosters with updated versions for Omicron confer some degree of immunity. At least for the first three months after vaccination.

As reported by the Global Times, Zhong Nanshan also reported that China has approved two new vaccines. These, specifically for the Xbb variants. Which are expected to be on the market soon. ‘Three or four more are likely to be approved soon,’ reads the Global Times. Will they arrive in time?

Read also: Covid pandemic three years later: what is the situation worldwide and the most spread variants today

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