While Covid cases remain low in the U.S., and deaths continue to plummet, some Americans may still feel anxious about the nation’s current pandemic situation as they see countries like China and some across Europe deal with recent increases in cases. Some experts are assuring Americans that it is unlikely another massive surge occurs soon stateside, though.
Experts from top public health schools in the U.S. told CNN that residents of China are ‘immunologically naïve’ because of their little previous experience with the virus, as the nation has managed to keep case numbers low throughout the pandemic. Meanwhile, America has already suffered five massive virus surges over two years, with nearly the entire population having been infected at some point.
The Sinopharm vaccine being distributed around the Asian country is not nearly as effective against infection as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs being administered in America, too.
Covid cases in America have also settled at one of the lowest points during the pandemic so far, with the nation averaging 30,679 cases per day, a figure that has stayed relatively steady over the past two weeks. Daily deaths are plummeting, down 24 percent over the past week to 745 a day – the lowest daily death average since August.
China has suffered its largest surge of Covid cases yet this month, reaching a record 14,000 cases per day. Even amid the surge China (green) still has a much lower infection rate that the U.S. (red) and others nations
China has suffered record surge of the virus in recent weeks, with the Asian nation reaching 14,000 new cases per day this week. Strict quarantine and lockdown orders as part of the country’s ‘zero Covid’ policy have made these types of increases rare for China.
Dr Abram Wagner (pictured), a public health expert at the University of Michigan, said that the U.S. and China are going forward on different trajectories so far during the pandemic
Case levels are still comparatively low for China, though. At a record high, the country is averaging four cases per one million residents, while America’s current low comes out to 91 cases per one million residents – Our World in Data reports.
‘That’s a stark contrast,’ Abram Wagner, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, told CNN.
‘We’re in different trajectories, with the US case numbers going down and kind of plateauing at this point in time, so the direction is different. But I think seeing the smaller number of cases in China, I think the policies that China has in play with restrictions on some level have had an effect.’
A surge occurring in China does not mean much for the U.S., though, even as America heads in a total opposite direction of their Asian peers by dropping all Covid restrictions and returning to ‘normal’ around the country.
Experts say that the situation in each country is so different that it is hard to draw conclusions for one based on data from another.
‘Public health is very much a local thing… you would probably expect to see more variation from country to country in terms of case numbers and surges and fatality rates from here on out’ said Andy Pekosz, a virologist at the Johns Hopkins, told CNN.
‘All of that means it’s just difficult to make blanket statements about how things are going to go forward.’
The highly infectious, vaccine resistant, Omicron variant has caused problems for the Sinopharm jab as well, and ‘changed an awful lot of the playing field,’ Pekosz said.
Dr Andy Pekosz (pictured), a virologist at Johns Hopkins, said that the natural immunity many Americans have from BA.1 infection will likely protect them from infection from the ‘stealth’ variant
Meanwhile in the U.S., a successful rollout of COVID-19 booster shots has allowed the country to shore up immunity and control the virus. American regulators are now rolling out a fourth shot as well, with the Food and Drug Administration authorizing a second booster dose of the Pfizer and Moderna shots to Americans 50 and older this week.
The main difference between America and China is natural immunity. China has kept cases minimal for nearly two years, recording 1.3 million overall, meaning that basically none of the population has natural Covid antibodies.
America has suffered over 80 million Covid infections, with officials warning that true infection figures could be even three times higher than that because of lack of available testing at some points, asymptomatic cases and that some at-home rapid tests do not get reported in official figures.
Now, as the BA.2 ‘stealth’ variant begins to spread across the world, slowly overtaking the less-infectious BA.1 lineage that dominated the winter, Chinese people do not have the same kind of natural immunity that Americans have.
‘The [BA.2] subvariant of Omicron is not an entire leap ahead of Omicron, whereas Omicron was really quite different than Delta,’ said Dr Davidson Hammer, a global health professor at Boston University, told CNN.
‘I think that there are a lot of people, at least the United States, that have had Omicron, and there’s growing evidence that there’s they’re close enough in terms of their immunologic profile that if you’ve had [BA.1]you’re unlikely to get [BA.2].’
BA.2, which earned the moniker from its ability to avoid detection through some sequencing methods, is believed to be the most infectious version of Covid yet – but is just as mild as the BA.1 version of Omciron that took over the world last last year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that it now makes up 55 percent of active Covid cases in the U.S., taking the mantle from BA.1 as the nation’s dominant strain.
As a whole, Omicron is still the dominant variant and makes up every single case sequenced by the CDC, the agency reports.
There are fears that this strain will cause another surge of cases in America, like it did in other parts of the world in recent weeks, though the likelihood is looking increasingly slim as cases numbers were not effected at all by BA.2 overtaking BA.1 in recent weeks.