Why China's Sharp COVID Surge Has US Officials Worried

If you're like most people, you probably find it difficult to keep up with the evolving strains of SARS-CoV-2 and the rules and regulations of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just when it looks like the coast is clear, we seem to take two steps backward as far as the spread of the virus is concerned. Although COVID-19 cases appeared to be declining for a period of time, they seem to be increasing now. Within the past two weeks, most states in America have observed an increase in hospitalizations, according to The New York Times.

Historically, the COVID-19 pandemic has appeared in surges, explained Lisa Maragakis, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine (per Johns Hopkins Medicine). A number of factors contribute to the fluctuation of COVID-19 cases, including the effectiveness of vaccines and immunity to the virus. According to Maragakis, SARS-CoV-2 has mutated and evolved over time, and cases are on the rise in areas where fewer people wear masks, and where more people socialize in large groups without physical separation. Preventative measures like physical distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands can reduce someone's risk of spreading the virus.

Recently, a new wave has been observed in China that's concerning experts in America. With the growing rates of COVID-19 cases in America, it's understandable for U.S. officials to want to know the state of the virus in China. Let's take a closer look at what we know so far about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in China.

Why are US officials worried about the new wave in China?

Upon ending its "zero-COVID" policy, China has reported its first COVID-related death in weeks. U.S. experts are concerned that China is covering up a recent surge in COVID-19 cases (per U.S. News and World Report). In China, COVID-19 infection rates have increased so rapidly that they have stopped tracking asymptomatic infections as a result, according to PBS News Hour

Officials are worried that not enough people in China have received their booster shots. They believe that this may cause a spike in COVID-19 cases and lead to the emergence of a new variant. "Whenever you have a large wave of transmissions of a virus, you give it ample opportunity to mutate," Anthony Fauci has been reported to have said, as shared in U.S. News and World Report. "And when you give a virus opportunity to mutate, that allows it to form potentially new variants. And once you get a brand new variant that could have an impact on the rest of the world."

According to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, infections in China are predicted to peak around April 1st, as the death toll is expected to reach 322,000, potentially reaching over 1 million deaths by the end of the year (per U.S. News and World Report). Experts in America are concerned that China could face difficulties in the coming months, which could negatively impact the global economy.