Admin l Wednesday, January 4, 2023
BERLIN – A German epidemiologist has questioned the value of testing travellers from China for Covid-19 amid a growing debate in Europe and beyond about how to respond to the massive wave of cases sweeping across China.
Several countries in Europe including France and Spain have introduced Covid-19 measures including the testing of travellers coming from China in a bid to monitor the coronavirus and any emerging mutations.
However, German epidemiologist Klaus Stöhr said testing travellers from China is not an effective way to curb new virus variants, amid concerns that these may be spreading undetected.
“Monitoring is not such a bad idea, it is certainly interesting from a scientific point of view, but in purely practical terms we would then have to see how this variant behaves in the population,” Stöhr, a former head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) influenza programme told German public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday.
He said the main thing is to determine which characteristics have changed alongside genetic ones, whether other age groups are also affected and how far people are protected by their level of immunity.
“All this takes a certain amount of time and then the variant has already slipped through. Even testing cannot prevent this,” said Stöhr. He added that testing would not detect every person who was infected with Covid-19.
His comments come as the virus spreads rapidly through China, where the authorities abruptly dropped the zero-Covid policy that involved lockdowns, mass tests and forced quarantine for almost three years.
That move triggered an unprecedented wave of cases and EU crisis specialists are due to consider whether to introduce a bloc-wide policy in response.