US, Global Health Officials Call for Transparency from China Amid COVID Outbreak - medtigo



US, Global Health Officials Call for Transparency from China Amid COVID Outbreak

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The international community is in the dark about the scope and severity of the current wave of illness in the world’s most populated nation, according to U.S. and global health authorities.  

In a statement released on Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said China’s lack of transparency could delay the identification of new Covid variants that represent a harm to public health. According to the CDC, China shares extremely few genetic sequences used to identify such variations.  

The CDC announced additional testing requirements for travelers whose flights begin in China on Wednesday. All travelers, regardless of country or vaccination status, must provide a negative Covid test result to the airline before boarding their aircraft to the United States. The regulations become effective on January 5.  

As per CNBC, India, Italy, Japan, and Taiwan have also mandated Covid testing for Chinese-origin airline passengers. After loosening its strict zero-Covid policy in the face of societal turmoil earlier this year, the Chinese government is again confronting a rise of infections.  

In a call with media on Wednesday, a U.S. federal health official stated that the Biden administration has very limited information on the number of new Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in China. The official stated that diminished testing and casing reporting have made it difficult to identify the true infection rate.  

According to the official, a major section of the population lacks immunity to the extremely contagious omicron forms as a result of China’s zero-Covid policy, which aimed to suppress epidemics through draconian measures. As a result, the Biden administration predicts that a high number of Chinese citizens will become sick rather rapidly.  

The official, who declined to be identified as a condition of the press call, stated, “What we’re concerned about is a new strain that may emerge in China.” “Because so many Chinese have been infected in such a short period of time, there is a possibility, a probability, that a new variation will emerge.”  

The most recent genetic sequencing data supplied by Chinese health officials reveals that Covid variations circulating in the country are identical to those known elsewhere, according to a statement released this week by GISAID, a German public database.  

In the last 180 days, China has sequenced and shared 412 Covid cases with GISAID, whereas the United States has provided more than 576,00. China has shared less than 1% of reported and sequenced Covid cases, while the United States has shared more than 4% and the United Kingdom over 12%.  

In addition, the World Health Organization has requested that China share more information on what is happening on the ground as the virus spreads. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the global health agency, stated last week during a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, that the WHO is “very concerned” about the deteriorating situation in China as severe disease reports continue to rise.  


“In order to establish a full risk assessment of the situation on the ground, WHO requires more specific data on disease severity, hospital admissions, and ICU support requirements,” Tedros added. 

According to Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the global health organization’s emergency program, anecdotal reports indicate that emergency rooms and, in some cases, intensive care units are filling up in China. Last week at a press conference in Geneva, Ryan stated, “We do not have a full understanding of the impact” of the Covid wave in China.  

The omicron subvariants BA.5, BQ.1, BF.7, and BA2.75 are all circulating in China, according to Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid technical head. China has also found XBB, one of the most immune-evasive forms to yet.  

In research issued on December 15, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation stated that a major wave of infection in China is expected as Beijing relaxes its zero-Covid policy. According to the analysis, there will be a large number of severe diseases among the senior population, and the death toll would be substantial.  

China is in a precarious position because its homegrown vaccines are less effective than Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA shots. China’s elderly population vaccination rates lag behind those of other nations.  

“One out of every seven people on the planet reside in China, and the acceleration of vaccination, the preservation of the health system during this period, is in the best interests of seven out of every seven people on the planet,” Ryan stated. The United States has given China mRNA Covid vaccinations and other assistance, but Beijing has rebuffed the offer, a federal health official said on a conference call on Wednesday. 

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