Financial TimesFinancial Times

How serious is the threat of new Covid-19 variants?

By Donato Paolo Mancini and Clive Cookson

05 Jan 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Given the surge in infections in China, there are growing concerns that a new and more dangerous COVID-19 variant may emerge. But is that concern warranted? FT explains what you need to know.

Ever since China ended its “zero-Covid” policy late last month, its hospitals have been overwhelmed by cases. But as concerns grow about the threat of new variants Beijing has been criticised by global health bodies for a lack of transparency about the prevalence of the virus in the country.

At least 15 countries have introduced mandatory Covid testing for travellers arriving from China, mostly to ensure that no dangerous variants go undetected. The UK Health Security Agency, for example, has asked hospitals to sequence all viral samples from patients who have arrived from China that are hospitalised with Covid.

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