A WARNING has been issued over China’s ‘thermonuclear’ Covid outbreak amid growing fears it could produce a new mutation of the deadly virus.
The country is currently gripped by a wave of rising cases, with growing concerns that the communist government may be hiding the true toll of the virus.
“When it comes to the current outbreak in China, we want that to be addressed,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a briefing on Monday. “We know that whenever the virus spreads in the wild, it has the potential to mutate and threaten people everywhere.”
“Given the size of China’s GDP, the toll the virus is taking on the rest of the world is worrying,” he said. “It’s not only good for China to be in a stronger position against Covid, but also for the rest of the world.”
Washington is closely monitoring rising infection rates in China as China eases its zero-Covid policy, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in a call with reporters on Tuesday.
The outbreak followed Beijing’s decision to lift a series of strict restrictions, including quarantine and isolation protocols, that had largely protected China’s 1.4 billion people from the worst of the pandemic’s effects.
It comes when epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigi-Ding warned that the pandemic is not over yet.
In a Twitter thread, he wrote: “You don’t have to believe me. Many people didn’t in January 2020 when I tried to warn that the “novel coronavirus” was a pandemic the world hadn’t seen since 1918. And I’m saying that #CovidIsNotOver I’m just an epidemiologist trying to warn…”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health officials have been on the lookout for new variants like Delta or Omicron as Covid waves hit different countries around the world.
According to the CDC, new variations “allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines.”
Even as the number of cases increases, much of the world is in a much stronger position to fight the virus today than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, thanks to immunization programs in place and growing immunity.
Cities across China rushed to install hospital beds and build clinics for fever screening on Tuesday as authorities reported five more deaths and international concerns mounted over Beijing’s surprise decision to let the virus run free.
Now, as the virus sweeps through a country of 1.4 billion people who lack natural immunity from being shielded for so long, there are growing concerns about possible deaths, virus mutations and the impact on the economy and trade.
“Each new wave of epidemics in another country carries the risk of new variants, and that risk increases the larger the outbreak, and the current wave in China is shaping up to be a big one,” said Alex Cook, vice dean for research at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore.
“However, China must inevitably endure a major wave of Covid-19 if it is to reach an endemic state in a future without lockdowns and the resulting economic and political damage.”
Xu Wenbo, an official with the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters that new mutations were emerging but downplayed concerns.
“The ability of the immune system of new strains is becoming stronger and more contagious,” Xu said. “But the likelihood of them becoming more deadly is slim. Strains that are more contagious and pathogenic are even less likely.”
Overall, China has reported 5,242 Covid deaths since the pandemic broke out in the city of Wuhan in late 2019, a very low number by global standards.
Since Covid guidelines were eased, some hospitals have been inundated, pharmacies drained of medicines, while many people have slipped into self-imposed lockdowns, straining delivery services.
Some health experts estimate that 60 percent of people in China – equivalent to 10 percent of the world’s population – could become infected in the coming months and that more than two million could die.
It comes after a long line of hearses and workers in hazmat suits were seen carrying the dead to a designated Covid crematorium in Beijing.
However, it is unclear whether the deaths are due to Covid.
Earlier, a doctor warned that unvaccinated people are Covid “variant factories” that could prolong the pandemic.
dr William Schaffner, a professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN, “Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories.
“The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities the virus has to multiply.
“If it does, it mutates and could later induce an even more serious mutant variant.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6957763/china-covid-outbreak-spawn-new-variant-warning/ Urgent warning China’s ‘thermonuclear’ Covid outbreak could spawn new mutations as expert says pandemic is NOT over