Health officials in the United States and the world are concerned about China’s transparency about the spread of the virus

It will take several months for Covid to work in China, says AEI Scissors

US and global health leaders say Beijing is not sharing enough information about the spread of Covid-19 in China, leaving the international community in the dark about the scale and severity of the current wave of infections in the world’s most populous country.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, in a statement on Wednesday, that a lack of transparency from China may delay the identification of new Covid variants that pose a threat to public health. China shares very few genomic sequences used to identify such variants, according to the CDC.

On Wednesday, the CDC announced new testing requirements for airline passengers whose flights begin in China. All passengers, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, must undergo a Covid test no more than two days prior to their flight to the United States and submit a negative result to the airline prior to departure. The requirements go into effect on January 5.

India, Italy, Japan and Taiwan have also imposed Covid testing requirements on airline passengers from China. The Chinese government is battling a surge in infections after easing its strict anti-coronavirus policy in the wake of social unrest earlier this year.

People receive an inhaled COVID-19 vaccine at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Baiji, Guizhou Province, China, December 29, 2022.

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Contacted by reporters on Wednesday, a US federal health official said the Biden administration has very limited information on the number of new Covid cases, hospitalizations, and especially deaths in China. The official said reporting of tests and coverage has also decreased in the country, making it difficult to determine the true infection rate.

The official said China’s non-coronavirus policy, which has sought to stamp out the outbreak through drastic measures, means that a large part of the population has no immunity from highly transmissible omicron variants. As a result, the Biden administration expects a large number of people to be infected relatively quickly in China.

“What we’re concerned about is a new variant that may actually appear in China,” said the official, who declined to be named as a condition of the press call. “With so many people in China affected in a short period of time, there is an opportunity, the possibility that a new variant will emerge.”

The latest genetic sequencing data published by health authorities in China indicates that the Covid variants circulating in the country are similar to those known in the rest of the world, according to a statement this week from GISAID, a public database based in Germany.

In the past 180 days, China has sequenced and shared 412 Covid cases with GISAID, compared to more than 576,000 cases shared with the United States. Health authorities in China have shared less than 1% of reported and sequenced Covid cases, while the US has involved more than 4% and the UK nearly 12%.

The World Health Organization has also called on China to share more information about what is happening on the ground as the virus spreads.

“The World Health Organization is very concerned about the evolving situation in China with increasing reports of severe disease,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO. During a press conference in Geneva last week.

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“In order to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of the situation on the ground, WHO needs more detailed information on disease severity, hospitalizations and ICU support requirements,” Tedros said.

The WHO has largely anecdotal reports of emergency rooms and in some cases filling intensive care units in China, according to Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme.

“We don’t have complete knowledge of the impact,” Ryan said of the Covid wave in China during the news conference in Geneva last week.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical chief for Covid, said last week that Omicron’s sub-variants BA.5, BQ.1, BF.7 and BA.2.75 are all circulating in China. Also discovered in China, XBB is one of the most elusive immune variants to date.

institute for health metrics and evaluation, In a report published on December 15He said that a huge wave of infections in China is inevitable as Beijing relaxes its anti-coronavirus policy. The report stated that there would be huge numbers of serious diseases among the elderly population and the death toll would be high.

China is in a difficult situation because domestically developed vaccines are not as effective as the mRNA vaccines of Pfizer and Moderna. Vaccination coverage among the elderly population in China also lags behind other countries.

“One in seven people on the planet lives in China and accelerating vaccination and protecting the health system during this period is in the interest of seven out of seven people on the planet,” Ryan said.

The US has offered China Covid mRNA vaccines and other support, but Beijing has rejected the offer, the federal health official said in a call Wednesday.

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