Coronavirus experts met at World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday to discuss the next steps amid a reported surge in COVID-19 infections in China, UN News reported.
A spokesperson for the WHO confirmed to journalists in Geneva that Chinese scientists had been invited to participate in a meeting of the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19. According to UN News, the 30-strong expert group was formed in June 2020 to advise the UN health agency and Member States on coronavirus mutations and variants. The group’s last meeting was in October.
In an earlier statement, WHO said that a high-level meeting took place on December 30 with China on the current surge in COVID-19 cases.
“High-level officials from China’s National Health Commission and the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration briefed WHO on China’s evolving strategy and actions in the areas of epidemiology, monitoring of variants, vaccination, clinical care, communication and R&D,” the WHO said in a previous statement.
Last week, WHO again asked for regular sharing of specific and real-time data on the epidemiological situation — including more genetic sequencing data, data on disease impact including hospitalisations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and deaths — and data on vaccinations delivered and vaccination status.
The UN health body reiterated the importance of vaccination and boosters to protect against severe disease and death for people at higher risk.
“WHO called on China to strengthen viral sequencing, clinical management and impact assessment, and expressed willingness to provide support on these areas, as well as on risk communications on vaccination to counter hesitancy.
Chinese scientists are invited to engage more closely in WHO-led COVID-19 expert networks including the COVID-19 clinical management network,” the statement added.
The WHO had said it invited Chinese scientists to present detailed data on viral sequencing at a meeting of the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution on 3 January.
The UN body also stressed the importance of monitoring and timely data publication to help China and the global community formulate accurate risk assessments and inform effective responses.