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Greater than half of Europe may quickly be contaminated with coronavirus, says the WHO

LONDON – Greater than half of the individuals in Europe might be contaminated with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus within the subsequent six to eight weeks, the World Well being Group warned on Tuesday amid “a brand new tidal wave from west to east sweeping the area”. . “

“Within the first week of 2022 there have been over seven million circumstances of Covid-19 within the area, greater than doubling in two weeks,” mentioned Dr. Hans Kluge, Regional Director of the Company for Europe, at a press convention.

Though coronavirus vaccines are nonetheless remarkably efficient at stopping severe sickness and dying, the company warned in opposition to treating the virus like seasonal flu, as a lot remains to be unknown – particularly relating to the severity of the illness in areas with decrease vaccination charges like Jap Europe.

The WHO has been warning for months that booster vaccinations may worsen vaccine inequality world wide, however Dr. Kluge mentioned Tuesday that they might play an important position in defending probably the most susceptible individuals from severe sickness and also needs to be used to guard well being staff and different key staff, together with lecturers.

Since Omicron was first found in late November, it has torn the planet aside at a tempo not seen within the two years of the pandemic. Since pals, colleagues, and members of the family examined constructive, the truth that the virus was spreading shortly and broadly was a defining attribute of this wave of infections.

However the steep climb that Dr. Kluge, quoted on the idea of forecasts by the Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis, is a blatant paradigm shift. Though the institute’s fashions have been broadly criticized by specialists, it’s clear that the virus is spreading quickly. Even when many individuals keep away from severe sicknesses, the virus guarantees social disruption throughout the continent.

Whereas a lot of the general public dialogue has centered on whether or not that is the second governments ought to change their insurance policies and restrictions to deal with coronavirus as an endemic illness – lifting many of the restrictions and permitting individuals to threat equally to in managing influenza – WHO mentioned it was too early to label this virus as endemic.

Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer for WHO, mentioned one of many key elements in declaring the virus endemic was a way of predictability.

“We’re nonetheless a good distance from that,” she mentioned. “We nonetheless have loads of uncertainty.”

Dr. Kluge added that there are simply too many unknown elements, together with precisely how heavy Omicron is for unvaccinated individuals and the way excessive the chance is of an an infection that results in “lengthy covid” signs.

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Jan. 11, 2022, 5:30 p.m. ET

“I’m additionally deeply involved that in international locations the place the vaccination fee is decrease and the place there are extra extreme ailments within the unvaccinated, we are going to nonetheless must see its full results because the variant strikes east,” he mentioned.

Nations within the Balkans and Jap Europe, the place Omicron is presently changing into widespread, have a lot decrease vaccination charges than Western Europe.

Regardless of the widespread an infection fee, Dr. Sensible information from Denmark suggesting how efficient vaccines stay. The hospitalization fee for unvaccinated individuals was “six occasions larger within the newest wave than for many who had been absolutely vaccinated within the week over Christmas,” he mentioned.

“Permit me to reiterate that the presently permitted vaccines proceed to supply good safety in opposition to severe sickness and dying, together with for Omicron,” he mentioned. “However due to the unprecedented ranges of transmission, we at the moment are seeing rising hospital admissions for Covid-19. It challenges well being techniques and repair supply in lots of international locations the place Omicron has unfold quickly and threatens to overwhelm in lots of different international locations. “

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He added, “For international locations that haven’t but been affected by the Omicron surge, there’s now a detailed window to behave now and plan for contingencies.”

One of many central struggles of governments throughout Europe has been making an attempt to maintain colleges open, and Dr. Kluge described these efforts as important.

“Faculties needs to be the final locations to shut and the primary to reopen,” he mentioned, though he added that “the variety of individuals contaminated might be so excessive in lots of locations that colleges in lots of international locations will not have the opportunity to take action to carry them ”. all lessons open “because of sickness and employees shortages.

An instance of that stress was in France this week, the place 10,452 classes had been canceled on Monday, in response to authorities figures. Prime Minister Jean Castex mentioned the nation’s schoolchildren might be allowed to do self-tests as an alternative of PCR exams if considered one of their classmates exams constructive to be able to maintain the schooling system going.

“If we had been to shut lessons instantly after a primary case, taking into consideration the Omicron explosion, all French colleges can be closed in a couple of days,” Castex instructed France 2 tv.

Nonetheless, as international locations think about lowering isolation occasions for individuals who take a look at constructive to restrict the influence on important providers, Dr. Kluge that “any resolution to scale back the beneficial quarantine or isolation occasions together with damaging Covid-19 exams needs to be made and provided that that is taken under consideration”. important to keep up important service continuity. “

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