The uncertainty related to the coronavirus, the high transmissibility of the omicron variant and the hospital burden derived from it make it premature to think of treating COVID-19 as an endemic disease, the World Organization’s regional office for Europe highlighted on Tuesday of Health (WHO), which also foresees that More than 50% of the European population will be infected by omicron in the next 6-8 weeks.
“You have to be very careful with predictions about the future,” the director of WHO-Europe said at a press conference. Hans Kluge, who has insisted that the priority right now is to protect vulnerable groups and health workersas well as minimizing disruption to the economy and schools.
Kluge recalled that the coronavirus has surprised “more than once” and that “it is not a good idea” to make forecasts, in addition to highlighting that the fundamental objective for this year is “to stabilize the pandemic.”
The head of emergencies of WHO-Europe, Catherine Smallwood, has pointed out in the same appearance that “we are not at that point of the pandemic” and that its evolution will depend a lot “on the actions we take collectively in Europe and around the world.”
The director of OMS-Europe has insisted on the importance of keeping schools open for the mental, social and educational well-being of children and that they should be the last place to close and the first to reopen. Ensuring good ventilation, hand hygiene and the use of masks, as well as including teachers and other school personnel among the priority groups to receive the vaccine and the booster dose should be central aspects, according to the WHO.
50% of Europe will be infected in 6-8 weeks
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) anticipates that more than 50% of the European population will be infected by omicron in the next 6-8 weeks, as Hans Kluge has warned.
More than seven million new cases have been registered in the region – which includes 53 countries in Europe and Central Asia – in the first seven days of the year, twice as much as two weeks before, has pointed out the WHO, although mortality rates remain stable and are higher where the incidence is higher and the vaccination rate is lower.
Kluge has expressed concern about the impact of omicron in Eastern countries, where the percentage of the vaccinated population is lower, and recalled that vaccines continue to provide “good protection” against severe cases and death.
As of January 10, 26 countries report that more than 1% of their population is infected with COVID-19 each week. Furthermore, 50 of the 53 countries in Europe and Central Asia have already reported cases of omicron. “It is rapidly becoming the dominant virus in Western Europe and is now spreading in the Balkans,” the WHO Europe regional director has warned.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.