WHO shares key information on recent COVID-19 outbreak in China

Omicron subvariants BA.5.2 and BF.7 together accounted for 97.5% of all recent local infections in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Wednesday.
koronavírus variáns tüskefehérje covid-19 mutáns vakcina

The China CDC analysis showed a predominance of Omicron lineages BA.5.2 and BF.7 among locally acquired infections. BA.5.2 and BF.7 together accounted for 97.5% of all local infections as per genomic sequencing.

For locally-acquired infections, data presented were based on more than 2000 genomes collected and sequenced from 1 December 2022.

A few other known Omicron sublineages were also detected albeit in low percentages. These variants are known and have been circulating in other countries, and at the present time no new variant has been reported by the China CDC,

the WHO added.

As of 3 January, 773 sequences from mainland China have been submitted to the GISAID EpiCoV database, with the majority (564 sequences) collected after 1 December 2022. Of those, only 95 are labelled as locally acquired cases, 187 as imported cases and 261 do not have this information provided. Of the locally acquired cases, 95% belong to BA.5.2 or BF.7 lineages.

This is in line with genomes from travellers from China submitted to the GISAID EpiCoV database by other countries.

"No new variant or mutation of known significance is noted in the publicly available sequence data," the WHO said.

WHO will continue to closely monitor the situation in the People’s Republic of China and globally and urges all countries to continue to be vigilant, to monitor and report sequences, as well as to conduct independent and comparative analyses of the different Omicron sublineages, including on the severity of disease they cause.

At this time, the  Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is also evaluating the rapidly increasing proportion of XBB.1.5 in the United States and other countries. An updated risk-assessment of XBB.1.5, beyond the previous statement, is in progress. 

"We continue to ask China for more rapid, regular, reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths, as well as more comprehensive, real-time viral sequencing," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing on Wednesday.

WHO is concerned about the risk to life in China and has reiterated the importance of vaccination, including booster doses to protect against hospitalization, severe disease and death.

In the meantime, Hungary's official Covid portal, koronavirus.gov.hu is no longer available.

"In view of the sustained favourable course of the pandemic, the koronavirus.gov.hu website, which was created for the intensive phase of the pandemic, will be closed from 1 January," the website said a week ago. Official information on the outbreak will then be made available to the press via state newswire MTI, it added.

No Covid statistics were published in MTI news reports today.

State-run newswire MTI is generally available only to the press, and if the key statistical data continue to be provided to MTI, it is not clear why the official government website cannot publish a single Covid report per week. This further reduces transparency and makes it more difficult for the public and the press to keep track of the developments in the pandemic.

Here's what may be the last weekly report on the coronavirus pandemic in Hungary.


Cover photo: Getty Images


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