Statement from TAG-VE about COVID-19: The Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) explores the most recent research on the SARS-CoV-2 variants that are in circulation on a regular basis and recommends WHO on whether a change in public health strategy is necessary. On January 3, 2023, the TAG-VE convened to talk about the COVID-19 situation in mainland China. At the meeting, experts from the China CDC presented genetic data from SARS-CoV-2 infections that they classified as both imported and locally acquired.
The data for locally acquired infections was compiled and sequenced from more than 2000 genomes starting on December 1, 2022. According to the China CDC analysis, locally acquired infections were more likely to be caused by Omicron lineages BA.5.2 and BF.7. According to genomic sequencing, BA.5.2 and BF.7 combined were responsible for 97.5% of all local infections. Low percentages of a few additional recognized Omicron sub lineages were also found.
These variants are well-known and have been spreading in other nations, and as of this writing, the China CDC has not received any reports of any new variants. The majority (564 sequences) of the 773 sequences from mainland China that have been added to the GISAID EpiCoV database as of 3 January (573 sequences) were obtained after 1 December 2022. Only 95 of those have the label “locally acquired cases,” 187 have the label “imported cases,” and 261 have no such information.
95% of the locally acquired cases are associated with the BA.5.2 or BF.7 lineages. This agrees with genomes from Chinese travelers that other nations have donated to the GISAID EpiCoV database. The sequence data that is publicly available does not contain any novel variants or mutations with recognized relevance. Taking into account the information that has been provided thus far, the TAG-VE reiterates the crucial significance of further investigation as well as the exchange of sequence data in order to comprehend the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and the appearance of alarming mutations or variants.
Whether or whether a sequence is given a Pango lineage, this needs to be done. The simplest way to do this is through frequent and quick data deposits into openly available databases. The cornerstones of an accurate evaluation of the worldwide risk are the maintenance of high levels of representative genomic monitoring in China and globally, annotation of genomic sequences with pertinent clinical and epidemiological metadata, and quick dissemination of such data.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will keep a close eye on the situation in the People’s Republic of China and throughout the world and urges all nations to remain alert, monitor and report sequences, as well as to conduct independent and comparative analyses of the various Omicron sub lineages, including on the severity of disease they cause. Currently, the TAG-VE is also assessing the fast-rising prevalence of XBB.1.5 in the US and other nations.
Beyond the prior assertion, an updated risk evaluation of XBB.1.5 is being worked on. The TAG-VE continues to evaluate the information that is currently available regarding the spread ability, clinical seriousness, and immune escape potential of variants, as well as any potential implications for diagnostics, therapeutics, and the efficiency of vaccines in preventing infection and/or serious disease.
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