BEIJING, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- China's current prevention and control strategies are effective against the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Tuesday.
China will stick to its pandemic prevention and control policy, which aims to curb the transmission of the virus from abroad and simultaneously prevent the virus from resurging in the country, NHC spokesperson Mi Feng said at a press conference.
Studies have shown that the novel coronavirus mutation frequency is approximately three parts per million, and the emergence of new strains is normal, according to Qian Zhaohui, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
Qian said that the Omicron variant spreads very fast based on the latest reported epidemiological data in South Africa.
However, it is still too early to tell whether Omicron will replace Delta as the most widely prevalent variant, Qian noted, adding that people need to pay very close attention to the new strain.
The variant has more than 50 mutations, of which more than 30 are in the S protein region, said Jin Dongyan, a professor of molecular virology at Hong Kong University, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
It is very likely that Omicron evolved in patients with immune deficiency, Jin said. Therefore, high-risk groups with immune deficiencies should be encouraged to be vaccinated.
China has adopted the strategy of eliminating COVID-19 infections in a timely manner, so it is at a relatively low risk at present, Jin added.
No matter how the virus mutates, it is still the novel coronavirus, Zhang Wenhong, head of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the Shanghai-based Huashan Hospital of Fudan University, said on Sunday on his account on the microblogging website Sina Weibo.
China is accelerating its building up of scientific support for the following anti-COVID-19 efforts, he added.
The mutation of the Omicron variant will not affect the sensitivity and specificity of China's major nucleic acid testing reagents, said Xu Wenbo, an official from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some Chinese companies have already launched early-stage planning for vaccines targetting Omicron, according to Xu.
NHC official Wu Liangyou said that the NHC has strengthened pandemic monitoring and information reporting to win time for the early detection and treatment of COVID-19. Enditem