Covid in China: No new variants after the end of zero-Covid policytext_fields
Beijing: No new variants of coronavirus have emerged in China in the weeks after the government lifted its zero-Covid policy in late 20222.
A new study by Chinese researchers claimed there is no evidence that novel variants emerged between November 14 and December 20, 2022. They analysed 413 samples from Beijing and found that over 90% of the cases were BF.& and BA5.2, Omicron subvariants that were already present in the country. BF.7 accounted for three-quarters of the samples and over 15% were BA5.2, reported The Lancet journal.
A statement from the Institute of Microbiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said the virologists' analysis suggests two known Omicron sub-variants -- rather than any new variants -- have chiefly been responsible for the current surge in Beijing, and likely China as a whole.
Wolfgang Preiser and Tongai Maponga, virologists at South Africa's Stellenbosch University, said in a Lancet comment piece that the study only covered a few weeks of data. They cautioned that if new lineages were to emerge in the course of the surge, the study was probably too early to find them.
However, they also welcomed the "much-needed data from China" and hoped that the research will lead to more openness and exchange of data in the future.
China has dramatically cut back on Covid-testing and has not been open to sharing data in real-time. Over a dozen nations retaliated by imposing restrictions on travellers from China.
However, a BBC report said the police are still everywhere including temporary hospitals and empty testing booths. While most testing requirements are going, posters asking people to scan QR codes to record travelling history are still everywhere. Hundreds of thousands of workers in white hazmat suits who carried out zero-Covid edicts have now disappeared from the public spots.