January 27, 2023

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Can the spread of infection in China threaten the West? That’s what the experts say

Right now, China is gripped by a wave of corona infection.

to me bloomberg And the financial times It infects at least 37 million Chinese daily, and last month 250 million contracted the virus.

Now one of the questions is whether the repeated spread of infection could provide a breeding ground for new mutations that could threaten our very existence in the West.

According to Professor of Medical Microbiology, Orjan Olsvik at the University of Tromsø, new variants are inevitable, but it is not certain that the situation will worsen for this reason.

– There will be new mutations, but we only discover those that aggravate the situation. One could hope for an easily infectious variant, Olsvik says, but it causes little disease and very good immunity.

Experienced: UiT Professor of Microbiology, Örjan Olsvik, has extensive experience in virus and biological threat research, also from the Norwegian Armed Forces. Photo: Daniel Berg Fosseng/TV 2

This usually happens

When asked if the boom in infections in China could lead to the production of more dangerous viruses that can outpace Western vaccines, the professor replied that everything is possible in theory.

– But that’s not what usually happens. When a virus mutates, it is often in a direction where the virus is no longer able to spread. The usual thing is that you get a variant that infects quickly, but doesn’t make people sick.

According to Olsvik, it’s a different species that’s sweeping through China than the one that’s dominating Norway.

the last one FHI Weekly Report It shows that the BQ1.1 variant is now prevalent in Norway.

– In China they have a BF-7 variant. Olsvik says the vaccine still provides good protection against serious illness and death, but not infection.

Protection: Passengers at Beijing International Airport wear masks.  Photo: Tingshu Wang/Reuters

Protection: Passengers at Beijing International Airport wear masks. Photo: Tingshu Wang/Reuters

Chinese vaccine?

Unlike large parts of the world, China has given the population an internally developed vaccine. This is not an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer/Biontech, but a traditional alternative.

– We don’t really know how much worse it is, because China hasn’t released all the numbers. They themselves say it’s safe, but they likely have problems because of the vaccine, too.

Throughout the epidemic, the Chinese authorities have pursued a zero infection strategy.

The outbreak prompted immediate local lockdowns to stifle infection.

While the Western world has been vaccinating and opening up, it was only in the last month that China allowed the virus to spread in the country. Olsvik says China must now deal with a problem they have set before them.

Musk: Also in a hospital in Shanghai, there are many people who need help.  Protection is critical during the Corona pandemic.  Photo: STRINGER

Musk: Also in a hospital in Shanghai, there are many people who need help. Protection is critical during the Corona pandemic. Photo: STRINGER

The zero infection tactic had a positive effect at first. They thought they were successful with a little bit of infection and the chance of people at work and letting the community work, Olsvik says and continues:

– Now they have a backlog which worries China, and could become a problem for countries that have close cooperation with them if things get shut down.

FHI: – A drop in the ocean

Chief Physician Priben Avetsland of the Public Health Institute (FHI) doesn’t care much about infections imported from China.

– We have hundreds of thousands of corona patients in Norway every week. A few hundred additional cases of arrivals from China, he says, is a drop in the ocean.

– Imported infection is completely uninteresting when there is the same amount of infection in Narvik, Naples, Nagoya and Nashville.

Viral mutations are not a concern either. Aavitsland states that viral mutations happen all the time.

This is what viruses do. In the past year, several new varieties have appeared, but none of them have caused much concern.

So far, there is no variant that can infect better and cause more serious illnesses, the supervisor says.

‘Uninteresting infection on import’: a senior doctor at the FHI, Preben Aavitsland, sees no reason why Norway should introduce new measures as a result of the outbreak in China. Photo: Tor Erik Schrøder/NTB

Press in the hospital

Aavitsland says the FHI has a good overview of the current infection situation, and that there are a number of other things that are overwhelming the health care system.

– The biggest challenge now is that many people are infected with corona, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus infection, colds, sore throats and infectious diseases, so that there is pressure on emergency rooms and hospitals at the same time as part of the health workers are sick.

At this time, it is not appropriate to recommend new measures for Corona. This is determined by the capacity of hospitals and intensive care units in the country, says Aavitsland, and explains:

– Just before Christmas, we had a meeting with the country’s district doctors and regional health organizations. They reported that the situation is challenging in places, but that it can be handled safely.

FHI numbers for week 51

  • COVID-19: 338 new hospitalizations with COVID-19 being the primary cause (compared to 368 at Week 50). 17 new admissions to intensive care (vs. 19 at week 50). 81 deaths (vs. 92 at week 50)
  • flu: 532 new admissions with influenza (with/without an underlying cause) (vs. 390 at week 50)
  • RSV infection: 238 new admissions in Week 51 (with/without a lead reason) (vs. 159 in Week 50)

Source: FHI

There are no entry measures

According to the Health Department, they are now closely monitoring the infection situation in China.

However, the Norwegian authorities have Entry measures not yet evaluated from the eastern country.

“There is currently a greater spread of infection internally in Norway than in many other countries, and far fewer people travel from China to Norway than there is between the Nordic countries and European travel,” Assistant Director of Health Espen Rostrop Nakstad wrote in an email to TV 2.

– Therefore, we did not take into account special measures for travelers from China in the current situation.

Evaluations: Assistant Director in the Directorate of Health Espen Rostrop Nakstad.  Photo: Alexander Miklepost/TV2

Evaluations: Assistant Director in the Directorate of Health Espen Rostrop Nakstad. Photo: Alexander Miklepost/TV2

The United States announced on Wednesday that it would introduce a requirement for passengers from China to test negative.

The reason was the large increase in infection in the Chinese community and the lack of information about the taxa that were registered.

Japan, India, South Korea, Malaysia and Italy are other countries that introduce requirements to test negative for passengers from China. In Germany, health authorities are following developments closely, but no concrete measures have yet been implemented.

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