Analysis of COVID-19 samples in Beijing reflects no novel variants emerged during China’s recent outbreak: research
Published: Feb 09, 2023 01:29 PM
Photo: Snapshot from The Lancet

Photo: Snapshot from The Lancet

The sequencing of new COVID-19 samples in Beijing taken in November and December in 2022 reflected that no novel variants have emerged during China's recent COVID-19 outbreak, according to research published on The Lancet by a leading Chinese research team.

The research sequenced 413 COVID-19 samples in Beijing from November 14 to December 20 in 2022, including 350 local cases and 63 imported cases. Researchers found all samples belong to the existing variants and 315 of 350 local cases were either BA.5.2 or BF.7.

"In conclusion, we report the co-circulation of BF.7 and BA.5.2 in the current outbreak in Beijing and did not observe the existence of any novel variants. This study could be considered a snapshot of China, due to both the frequent population exchange and the circulating strains with high transmissibility," said the research paper published on The Lancet on Tuesday.

Funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China and Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the research was conducted by the team of Gao Fu, former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"It's very necessary to investigate whether a new variant emerged after China's recent optimization of its epidemic policy given the new variant's impact on the epidemic process. Our analysis showed the two already-existing variants, rather than any new variant, are the dominate ones in Beijing. And the conclusion could be applied to the situation across China," Gao Fu told The Lancet, emphasizing the necessity to keep closely monitoring the epidemic to find out potential new variants as soon as possible.

According to data shared by the Chinese CDC on Sunday, China's COVID-19 related death tolls have halved from the previous weekly total of 6,364 to the most recent week's 3,278. A sharp decline in deaths and the downward trend of COVID-19 infections indicate that China has stepped out of the current wave, observers said on Sunday.