China has sufficient technical capacity to handle Omicron amid its 3 future transmission scenarios

HKUMed reveals the electron microscopic image of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Photo: HKUMed

Three scenarios of future transmission of the Omicron variant have been suggested by China’s leading infectious disease specialist Zhang Wenhong during a forum, ensuring that China has sufficient technical capacity to deal with the COVID-19 variant.

Zhang shared his perspective via a video on how Omicron could spread across three different tier scenarios at the 2021 Greater Bay Science Forum in Guangzhou, southern China’s Guangdong Province.

The best situation is that with low toxicity Omicron will only spread to South Africa where it was first identified. Another situation is that despite high transmission and high toxicity, booster shots can work on it. The darker picture is that Omicron has high transmission and toxicity and booster shots are ineffective on it.

“Then we must rethink vaccine strategies and tighten our prevention and control measures,” noted Zhang, assuring that China had sufficient technical capacity to deal with the variant.

Zhang compared the COVID-19 outbreak with the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the H7N9 bird flu in 2009, both of which were contained in a relatively short period of time. But the COVID-19 pandemic has brought humanity into a new phase of the game with the virus.

“The experience gained from fighting SARS and H7N9 cannot be used in this battle and there is still great uncertainty about the global epidemic at this time,” Zhang said.

In addition, as many animals in the wild began to carry the COVID-19 virus, people lost the ability to completely eliminate the virus at an early stage, Zhang noted.

Zhang also analyzed the different modes in the UK, Singapore and Israel to tackle the epidemic. Singapore’s comprehensive and dynamic openness mode of vaccination echoes China’s dynamic zero COVID strategy, both of which are short-term response strategies in line with the actual situation in each country and do not go beyond ‘extreme.

While Israel has done a good job in controlling the fatal cases and the incidence rate with its mode in which an open policy has been implemented after the completion of the full two-dose vaccination while rapidly promoting injections reminder.

“So the booster shots will give us new hope,” Zhang said.

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