A new coronavirus variant has spread in China that will trigger a COVID-19 wave infecting nearly 65 million people every week by the end of next month, June, according to emerging reports.
The XBB, a variant of SARS-CoV-2, is spreading fast in neighbouring China in only six months after Chinese authorities scraped the draconian “zero-Covid” policy that witnessed blanket lockdowns, movement bans, and other restrictions across several Chinese cities while the rest of the world reopened to pre-pandemic levels.
XBB sublineage of the omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first identified in India in August, 2022, and according to Lancet, it is a recombinant of the BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 sublineages.
Scientists say that the XBB “is one of the most immune-evasive strains tested,” according to Lancet.
A top Chinese epidemiologist, Zhong Nanshan, warned at a conference in Guangzhou that the “anticipated” wave of the new variant of the novel coronavirus had already begun in late April.
“China could be approaching 40 million infections per week,” Nanshan warned. There are two vaccines that have received approval for the XBB.1.16 — dubbed “Arcturus” a descendant of the Omicron (B.1.1.529), as well as for XBB. 1.9.1, XBB. 1.5 strains, he stressed.
Notably, he is claiming that there will be three to four other vaccines that would be approved soon to tackle the contagion.
The new outbreak could be the largest wave of infections since China dismantled its strict zero-covid regime last winter, causing as much as 85 percent of the population to be infected at the time.
The Chinese health expert warned that the new strain of coronavirus will spread and will eventually become “a cause of concern” this year across several countries from India in Asia to the US, and the EU in the West.