The XBB subvariant of Omicron is unlikely to cause a new infection peak in China in the near future, said a Shanghai-based expert on infectious diseases.
There have been mounting public concerns in China about the new XBB sub-strain coming from overseas and the possible reinfections among those who have just recovered from the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
Wang Xinyu, deputy director of the infectious disease department of the Shanghai-based Huashan Hospital of Fudan University, said the recent COVID-19 upsurge has reduced the number of susceptible individuals in China, so it is unlikely for the XBB to bring a new peak in infection in the short term.
"People who have just recovered have a pretty high level of antibodies. They are less likely to be infected by the XBB variant compared with those who have never been vaccinated or infected," he told Xinhua in an interview.
The doctor also said the chances of developing serious conditions during reinfections are much lower for those who have previously been infected by similar sub-variants.
Wang's view echoed that of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which predicted a low possibility of a large-scale epidemic caused by the XBB.
The center said BA.5.2 and BF.7 sub-strains have remained as the two dominating strains in the country. China detected BF.7, BQ.1, and XBB imports in the past three months, but BQ.1 and XBB have not developed into dominant subvariants in the country.
It said that neutralizing antibodies from individuals infected with BA.5.2 and BF.7 will remain at a relatively high level for about three months. These patients should have effective cross-protection against other Omicron variants, including XBB.