Sunday, February 5, 2023

Could a new variant of COVID emerge in China?

Could the rise of COVID-19 in China lead to the emergence of a variant of the virus? Scientists aren’t sure, but they are concerned about the possibility. They claim it will be similar to the Omicron version already out there, or a combination of types, or something else entirely.

“China has a large population and limited immunity. And it looks like the conditions are ripe for a new type to emerge, said Dr. Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

Each new infection provides an opportunity for the virus to mutate, and the disease is spreading rapidly across China. The country of 1.4 billion people has already abandoned its “zero COVID” policy.

While vaccination rates are generally high, booster shots are not so high, especially among the elderly. Nationally produced vaccines are less effective than the Western RNA-type. And many vaccines were given more than a year ago, meaning immunity has waned.

Result? A favorable area for the virus to mutate.

“When we see high infection rates, it’s usually after the emergence of a new variant,” Ray said.

About three years ago, the original version of the virus left China and spread to the rest of the world. Then came the Delta Variant, and then Omicron and its progeny, who still plague the world today.


Correspondents Olivia Zhang and Dek Kang contributed to this story from Beijing.


The Associated Press receives support for its health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. Associated Press is solely responsible for the content.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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