BEIJING (Agencies): Medical experts are cautioning about a potential spike in COVID-19 infections during the upcoming winter season, expressing particular concern for the elderly and vulnerable populations.
While acknowledging the increased transmissibility of COVID-19 and its ability to escape antibodies, experts reassure the public that medical facilities are well-equipped to handle the situation, urging preventive measures and vaccinations.
- Key Points:
- Winter Spike Anticipation: China’s top respiratory disease expert, Zhong Nanshan, warns of a possible small spike in COVID-19 cases during the winter months. The elderly and vulnerable are advised to prioritize vaccination.
- Mutations and Antibody Decline: Mutations in the virus and declining antibody levels in the general population contribute to the concerns. Experts emphasize the importance of receiving second-generation vaccines, especially for those with weakened immune systems.
- Prevalent Strains and Statistics: October reported 209 new severe COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths in China, with prevalent strains identified as XBB variants, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC).
- Co-Infection Risks: With the approaching winter known for high influenza rates, experts caution about potential co-infections. While preventive measures should continue, there is a call for a balanced approach without undue alarm.
- Medical Facilities Readiness: Hospitals report readiness for potential spikes, having accumulated experience and necessary resources. COVID-19 medicines, including antiviral drugs, are deemed sufficient to handle increased cases.
- Other Respiratory Pathogens: The Chinese CDC warns of the risk of mixed infections of multiple respiratory pathogens during the winter, highlighting the need for caution.
- Preventive Measures: Hospitals have adjusted services to manage patient visits effectively, implementing pre-examination tests, increasing nursing staff, and enhancing internet-based outpatient services.
- Vaccination Urgency: Key groups, including children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, are urged to get vaccinated early to prevent severe pneumonia risks from combined influenza and pneumonia pathogens.
- Discovery of Protein Markers: A joint research paper published by reputable hospitals reveals 23 novel protein markers associated with long-term COVID-19 infection, aiding in the early identification of high-risk individuals with long COVID symptoms.
- Long COVID Awareness: Long COVID symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, and taste/smell disorders, are highlighted as concerns that should not be overlooked.
As winter approaches, a comprehensive approach involving vaccination, preventive measures, and medical readiness is emphasized to mitigate the potential impact of a winter spike in COVID-19 cases.