China’s COVID surge raises odds of new variant

Could the COVID-19 surge in China unleash a new coronavirus mutant on the world? Scientists don’t know for certain but worry that it might happen, according to an article by the Associated Press. A new variant could be similar to omicron variants circulating there now, or it could be a combination of strains, or something entirely different.

“China has a population that is very large and there’s limited immunity,” notes Dr. Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University. “And that seems to be the setting in which we may see an explosion of a new variant.”

Every new infection offers a chance for the coronavirus to mutate, and the virus is spreading rapidly in China, a country of 1.4 billion people that only recently abandoned its “zero COVID” policy. Though overall reported vaccination rates are high, booster levels are lower, especially among older people, and domestic vaccines in China have proven less effective against serious infection than Western-made messenger RNA versions.