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China COVID-19: New Wave To Result In 65 million Cases Per Week By June

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A new wave of COVID-19 is overwhelming the health situation in China. As early as May end, the cases rising from XBB Omicron variant will be 40 million in a week which would increase to 65 million in June, reported media company Bloomberg.

Respiratory disease specialist Zhong Nanshan said that China might see 65 million cases per week by the end of next month. He made this shocking prediction in Guangzhou at a biotech conference. According to him, the source of the new covid wave in China is XBB, the most recent omicron variant which has caused new cases to rise across the county since late April.

The new cases are reported almost six months after China removed its Covid Zero restrictions, which left the second most populated country vulnerable to attract more cases.

As of earlier this month, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention ceased updating its weekly numbers, raising significant concerns about the true severity of Covid-19 in China.

According to Zhong’s prediction, this wave of new cases would be less severe than the one that grew in China in late 2022 and early 2023. During that period, another omicron variant was possibly infecting 37 million people per day, increasing patients at hospitals and the dead at cemeteries, also, pushing medicinal supplies down.

China is hastily adding new vaccines that especially target XBB to its vaccine arsenal in response to this fresh threat. Two of these vaccines have already received preliminary approval from the nation’s drug regulator, and another three or four are anticipated to follow. Zhong said, “We can lead the pack internationally in developing more effective vaccines.”

Lately, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert panel suggested that one of the prevalent XBB types should be targeted in this year’s COVID-19 booster doses. Other compositions or systems that create neutralizing antibody responses against XBB progenitors should also be taken into account. New compositions should seek to generate antibody responses to the XBB.1.5 or XBB.1.16 variants.

Based on information that the original COVID-19 strain no longer exists in humans and that vaccinations against it create “undetectable or very low levels of neutralizing antibodies” against presently prevalent versions, the panel also recommended omitting it from future vaccines.

Vaccine producers for COVID-19, including Pfizer/BioNtech, Moderna Inc., and Novavax Inc., are already working on variants of their respective vaccines that will target XBB.1.5 and other strains that are now circulating. The US Food and Drug Administration in June will work on COVID-19 vaccine strain compositions, for later this year, with a gathering of external experts. After the strains are chosen, vaccine producers will be expected to update their products.

It is unclear how well these new vaccines will work to stop the spread of XBB as China readies defense system against this next round of infections which are anticipated to be extremely high.

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