‘Large-scale epidemic from XBB subvariant unlikely’

A medical worker injects COVID-19 vaccine for a senior citizen in Dongcheng district of Beijing, capital of China, April 18, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

BEIJING – The possibility of a large-scale epidemic caused by COVID-19 Omicron XBB subvariant is low in the short term in China, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC).

Currently, BA.5.2 and BF.7, two sub-strains of Omicron variant BA.5, are the two dominating strains in the country, said a statement released by the China CDC on Wednesday.

It added that neutralizing antibodies from individuals infected with the two strains will remain at a relatively high level for about three months. These patients should have effective cross-protection against other Omicron variants, including XBB.

Xu Wenbo, director of the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention under the China CDC, said China detected BF.7, BQ.1, and XBB imports in the past three months, but BQ.1 and XBB subvariants have not developed into dominant subvariants in the country.

ALSO READ: Senior official stresses orderly transition in handling COVID

In terms of local cases, 16 local XBB infections were reported from October to December 2022, all of which were XBB.1, with only one case reported in December, according to the experts.