As China lifts its COVID-19 restrictions, experts predict that the chances of a major wave of infections are slim due to the nation’s successful control measures. Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, declared that 80 percent of the population having already been infected has led to herd immunity and a low risk of another major epidemic.
While infection clusters may still occur in some regions, Wu reassured the public that the likelihood of a national outbreak is small. Chen Cao, a researcher at the China CDC, provided an update on the Omicron variant and reported 39 sublineages of the virus detected in inbound passengers since January 1. Most of these strains were offshoots of the dominant BA.5.2 and BF.7 strains previously seen during the domestic outbreak.
The World Health Organization also reported a decrease in the fatality rate of COVID-19 over time, with only 0.08 percent of December infections proving fatal. This, along with the absence of new variants with increased transmissibility or pathogenicity, gives experts confidence that the virus will not become more contagious or deadly.
In preparation for the upcoming spring semester, Liu Peijun, deputy director of the Ministry of Education’s Department of Physical, Health and Arts Education, announced that schools and education bureaus should stock up on anti-epidemic materials and set up health clinics and stations on campuses.
A recent study published in The Lancet analyzed COVID-19 cases in Beijing from November 14 to December 20 and found no new variants during the recent outbreak. The results, based on genome analysis of 413 COVID-19 cases in the capital, suggest that the two known Omicron subvariants were responsible for the surge in infections and can be considered a snapshot of the situation in China as a whole.
Despite the positive news, experts advise caution and close monitoring of the situation to ensure prompt detection of any potential new variants. COVID-19 cases are still being recorded in China, highlighting the importance of continued vigilance.