China is likely to see its Covid-19 wave peaking at about 65 million infections a week toward the end of June, according to a senior health adviser, while authorities rush to bolster their vaccine arsenal to target the latest omicron variants.
XBB has been fueling a resurgence in cases across China since late April and is expected to result in 40 million infections a week by the end of May, before peaking at 65 million a month later, local media outlet the Paper reported Monday, citing a presentation by respiratory disease specialist Zhong Nanshan at a biotech conference in the southern city of Guangzhou.
His estimate provides rare insight into how the much anticipated second wave may play out, with immunity among the country’s 1.4 billion residents waning nearly six months after Beijing’s sudden dismantling of Covid Zero curbs saw coronavirus run rampant. In the wake of the pivot to living with the virus, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention stopped updating its weekly statistics earlier this month, leaving a question mark over Covid’s impact.
The 65-million-case estimate from disease modeling indicates the resurgence is likely to be more muted compared with the previous wave unleashed late last year and into January. Back then, a different omicron sublineage probably infected 37 million people every day, sending residents scrambling for limited supplies of fever medicine, overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums.
China is also preparing to roll out new vaccines that will target XBB. The country’s drug regulator has already given preliminary approval to two and another three or four “will be cleared soon”, Zhong said. “We can lead the pack internationally in developing more effective vaccines.”
The batch of XBB-specific vaccines will also add to a growing number of homegrown immunizations Beijing has signed off throughout the pandemic, and is in line with a recommendation from an expert panel at the World Health Organization last week to move away from using the original Wuhan strain in future shots. WestVac Biopharma, a vaccine developer based in the western Chinese city of Chengdu, also got the go-ahead to start testing its XBB-based shots on human last week.
Source from: Bloomberg