Why Experts Say The US Is Unlikely To Have A COVID-19 Spike Similar To China's

Unlike the last two years, China is now seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in light of the spread of the BA.2 Omicron variant, according to CNN. With Shanghai seeing its highest infection numbers since the onset of the pandemic, thousands of military medics and medical workers from around the country have been mobilized in an effort to help contain the spread (via New York Times).

Currently averaging over 14,000 new cases per day from a calculated seven-day average, these numbers are in stark contrast to the low number of cases reported in China throughout the bulk of the pandemic, reports CNN. Between isolation facilities, strict testing measures, in-depth data tracking, pet monitoring, and more, such measures have proven effective in combating prior strains of the virus. However, with the Omicron variant being three times more likely to spread than the Delta variant, U.S. health experts believe China will need to turn their attention toward new measures catered specifically to the contagious nature of Omicron.

Differences in population immunity and vaccine efficacy

Despite Omicron's high transmissibility, health officials have no reason to believe that the U.S. should expect a surge similar to China's at this time, citing differences in population immunity and vaccine effectiveness as two of the main differentiating factors. Although the U.S. has seen high COVID-19 case numbers throughout the pandemic, this has produced a greater level of population immunity than in China, where much of the population has yet to contract the virus, CNN reports.

In addition to a lack of immunity, low vaccination rates among China's most vulnerable populations, along with the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines showing limited protection, further leave China vulnerable to spikes in COVID-19 numbers (per CNN). Because vaccination rates are higher in the United States than in China, and because population immunity was achieved after the winter Omicron surge, experts believe the U.S. will not see a similar surge to that of China's for the time being, even in the face of the highly transmissible BA.2 variant.