BEIJING, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- The National Health Commission has organized a panel of authoritative experts to answer the COVID-19 prevention questions that the public is most concerned about, as China optimizes its COVID-19 response.

Recently, some COVID-19 patients in China have developed pneumonia during their treatment, and their lung CT scans showed they had "white lung." Some netizens believe white lung formation is related to infection with the original strain of COVID-19 or the Delta strain, or from vaccination against the virus.

"From the perspective of causes, bacterial infection, fungal infection and viral infection, as well as serious cardiac dysfunction, heart failure and pulmonary edema, can lead to white lung formation," said Kang Yan, president of West China Tianfu Hospital at Sichuan University. "So there is no basis for such speculation."

Kang said the dominant strain currently found in China remains Omicron, and centers for disease control and prevention have not found the Delta strain to be prevalent. He noted that COVID-19 vaccines are not pathogenic. Their purpose is to help the body recognize an attack from the novel coronavirus. They are unlikely to cause lung lesions, let alone white lung.

"If the scope of inflammation is relatively large and there is a large white lung area, combined with some indicators such as abnormal oxygen saturation, this may be a warning sign for severe illness, and special attention should be paid to the patient at this time," Kang said.

Yu Kaijiang, president of the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, said there are three main therapeutic measures for white lung: oxygen therapy, prone position ventilation and nutritional support.

"According to clinical observation over the past three years, most patients recover very well, and obvious residual lung injury is extremely rare," said Ma Xiaochun, director of the department of critical care medicine at the First Hospital of China Medical University.

Li Yimin from the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, said that COVID-19 patients over 65 years of age with serious underlying health issues, such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, tumors and immune deficiency, are likely to develop into severe cases.

He said that people who fall under that category should pay close attention to the treatment of their underlying health issues after testing positive for COVID-19, and they should not stop taking medicines.

Kang said that not every elderly patient develops a severe illness. Elderly people should keep an eye on their symptoms, such as wheezing or rapid breathing during activity, after they test positive for COVID-19. "If similar symptoms appear, it is necessary to go to hospital for further examination and evaluation."

Elderly patients, in particular, should ensure adequate nutrition, Li added.

In response to the current increase in the number of severe cases, He Yingli, director of the infection department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, said that Omicron itself does not increase the risk of severe cases, but as the number of cases increases, the number of severe cases rises proportionally.

Yu suggested that people infected with the virus should monitor their health closely and see a doctor if they experience a high fever for more than three consecutive days, or if they have difficulty breathing.

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