No new variants in weeks after COVID downgraded in China: study
No new variants of COVID-19 emerged in Beijing in the weeks after China downgraded the COVID late last year, a new study said on Wednesday.
The new study by Chinese researchers, which analyzed 413 samples from the Chinese capital sequenced between November 14 and December 20, said "there is no evidence that novel variants emerged" during that time.
Instead, more than 90 percent of the cases were BF.7 and BA5.2, Omicron subvariants that were already present in China and have been overtaken by more transmissible subvariants in Western nations.
BF.7 accounted for three quarters of the samples, while more than 15 percent were BA5.2, according to the study published in The Lancet journal.
"Our analysis suggests two known Omicron subvariants — rather than any new variants — have chiefly been responsible for the current surge in Beijing, and likely China as a whole," lead study author George Gao, a virologist at the Institute of Microbiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a statement.
Virologists welcomed the "much-needed data from China."