TAG-VE statement on the meeting of January 3 on the COVID-19 situation in China

Jan. 5, 2023
COVID-19 in China update.

The Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) meets regularly to review the latest scientific evidence on circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and advises the World Health Organization on whether a change in public health strategies is warranted. The TAG-VE met on January 3, 2023 to discuss the COVID-19 situation in mainland China.

During the meeting, scientists from the China CDC presented genomic data from what they described as imported as well as locally acquired cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections. For locally acquired infections, data presented were based on more than 2000 genomes collected and sequenced from December 1, 2022. The China CDC analysis showed a predominance of Omicron lineages BA.5.2 and BF.7 among locally acquired infections. BA.5.2 and BF.7 together accounted for 97.5% of all local infections as per genomic sequencing. A few other known Omicron sublineages were also detected albeit in low percentages. These variants are known and have been circulating in other countries, and at the present time no new variant has been reported by the China CDC.

As of January 3, 773 sequences from mainland China have been submitted to the GISAID EpiCoV database, with the majority (564 sequences) collected after December 1, 2022. Of those, only 95 are labeled as locally acquired cases, 187 as imported cases and 261 do not have this information provided. Of the locally acquired cases, 95% belong to BA.5.2 or BF.7 lineages. This is in line with genomes from travelers from China submitted to the GISAID EpiCoV database by other countries. No new variant or mutation of known significance is noted in the publicly available sequence data.

WHO release