Beijing survey to help direct control measures

Updated: Feb 2, 2023 China Daily Print
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Tourists visit Great Tang All Day Mall in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, Dec 30, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Beijing has achieved temporary immunity from COVID-19 among its population and will soon carry out a survey to measure COVID-19 antibody levels to help assess the epidemic situation in the capital and inform the antivirus control strategy, Beijing News reported on Tuesday.

Wang Quanyi, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said during an interview that the city plans to conduct serological tests — which look for antibodies triggered by a previous infection to fight against the disease — on about 5,000 residents across its 16 districts and the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Zone from February to March.

Survey participants will also fill out a questionnaire that asks about their nucleic acid and antibody testing results, vaccination status and the course of their infection and treatment.

Survey findings will be used to help upgrade the allocation of antivirus resources and optimize policies, he said, adding that such surveys will likely be rolled out regularly based on their need.

Wang said that Beijing has passed the peak of the latest outbreak and that it is nearing its end. The dominant strains are BF.7 and BA.5.2.

Because of immunity gained from previous infections, he said the likelihood of seeing another wave of outbreak in at least three months is very small.

As the epidemic nationwide is also in decline, Wang said the increase in return trips made during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush that ends on Feb 15 will not cause trouble.

Given that Beijing has established temporary immunity protection among its population and will hardly experience a fresh wave in the short term, he suggested people aged 80 and above get vaccinated during this window of opportunity.

Wang said that regular surveillance of viral mutations and intensity of the virus' spread will be a focus of the center's work.

For instance, he said customs officials will test inbound travelers who have a fever or other respiratory symptoms and will send positive samples to genome-sequencing laboratories.

"Medical workers will also collect information from incoming travelers who are probably undergoing an incubation period of infection," he said. "If they test positive and their samples are deemed worthy of being further investigated, their samples will also be delivered to the center for genome sequencing."

He said the resulting data can help disease control workers gain a better understanding of viral mutations and imported cases of novel strains.

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