China finds a new subtype of omicron amid worst outbreak since start of pandemic

China finds a new subtype of omicron amid worst outbreak since start of pandemic
FILE PHOTO: Airline staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disease as they work at Beijing Capital International airport in Beijing, China March 13, 2022. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

China is still in the middle of its worst outbreak since the virus was first detected in Wuhan around three years ago. On Saturday, the country recorded over 13,000 COVID cases, 12,000 of which were asymptomatic. Several provinces like Jilin and Shanghai are in the middle of strict lockdown, while Shanghai is also about to start a new round of mass testing.

State media has also reported a new subtype of the omicron variant while two Chinese mRNA vaccines are about to begin clinical trials.

Key comments:

Citing data from local health authorities, the new iteration of the COVID virus has evolved from the BA.1.1 branch of the omicron variant, Global Times reported. According to the report, this variant doesn’t match any of the viruses within China or those submitted to GISAID, where scientists around the world share the coronavirus they’ve sequenced to observe mutations.

CSPC Pharmaceutical Group is one of the companies about to start clinical trials with its mRNA vaccine called “SYS6006.” A company statement wrote: “CSPC has carried out preclinical studies and small-size clinical studies on its COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidate, SYS6006. Preliminary data shows good and persistent immunogenicity, as well as good safety profile. Clinical study has shown that after 14 days of boost with SYS6006, the binding antibody titer was above 105 , which was over 10x higher than that of inactive vaccines. Safety performance of SYS6006 was similar to BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine’s PhI data in China. SYS6006 has good neutralizing activity for Omicron variant.”

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