Epidemic in China will not impact other countries, US should share accurate COVID-related data with world: FM
Published: Jan 17, 2023 07:52 PM
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin Photo: VCG

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin at a press conference Photo: VCG

No new COVID variants or mutations have been found in China, and the epidemic in China will not have a significant impact on other countries, Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday, urging the US to share its related data and information in a timely, open and transparent manner.

Some countries are imposing new measures or even discriminatory restrictions on travelers from China, citing concerns that the current surge of COVID-19 cases in China could lead to the emergence of new variants. 

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on January 10 that it did not expect a surge of COVID cases in China to "significantly impact" the situation in Europe.

"The ongoing surge in China is not anticipated to significantly impact the COVID-19 epidemiological situation in the WHO European Region at this time," Hans Kluge, WHO's Europe director, told a press conference.

Given the rapid spread of the latest offshoot of the Omicron variant - XBB. 1.5 - in the US, WHO Regional Office for Europe officials recommended travel measures be implemented in a "non-discriminatory" manner. No restrictions like those imposed on Chinese travelers are imposed on those from the US, according to media reports. 

China has always shared its related data in a timely, open and transparent manner, and it is willing to continue to share the genetic sequences of its COVID-19 cases with the WHO and the Global Influenza Sharing Database, aiming to make important contributions to vaccine and medical research and development, Wang said.

China has conducted multiple technological exchanges with the WHO, and will continue to support the organization in the global effort to combat COVID-19, Ma Xiaowei, the head of China's National Health Commission (NHC), told the head of the WHO over the phone on Saturday, as China on the same day published its data of in-hospital deaths after optimizing its COVID-19 response in early December.

In the three years since the outbreak of COVID-19, almost all variants have been prevalent in the US, making it one of the countries with the largest number of strains of the coronavirus, Wang said.

XBB.1.5, a new COVID variant, is spreading fast in the US and threatening to cause further waves of infections. It's one of the latest descendants of Omicron, the highly transmissible version of COVID, causing the number of cases in the US more than doubled in a week at the end of December, 2022.

The new variant accounts for about 41 percent of confirmed COVID cases across the US, according to the data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on December 30, 2022.

In response to the rapid spread of XBB.1.5, WHO released its first risk assessment on January 11, saying that the variant has become the most resistant mutant to antibodies to date as the mutation allows the variant to evade antibodies without compromising how well it attaches to human cells.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on January 14 posted a brief threat assessment for XBB.1.5, which it says made up less than 2.5% sequenced samples in Europe in the last two weeks of 2022. It added that its mathematical modeling suggests that the sub-variant could become dominant in the region over the next one or two months.

Wang stressed that the US should share its epidemic information and data with the WHO and the international community in a timely, open and transparent manner, and take effective measures to prevent further spread of the epidemic.

Global Times