Half of Europeans could be affected in the next two months by Omicron, warns WHO

The surge of the Omicron variant in Europe has raised fears of a wave of contamination affecting half of the population. Observations show a very strong increase in the number of infections which translates into a skyrocketing hospitalization rate with, however, a number of deaths which remains stable.

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Worried about the “tidal wave of tide » d’Omicron, the European branch of the World Health Organization estimated on Tuesday that more than 50% of Europeans could be affected by the new variant coronavirus within two months, due to the current rate of contaminations. « At this rate, theInstitute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (Ihme) predicts that more than 50% of the region’s population will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks », Said the director ofWHO Europe, Hans Kluge, at an online press conference. The mutations presented by this variant ” allowing it to adhere more easily to human cells, being able to infect even people who have been previously infected or vaccinated“, he added.

The region, which has 53 countries and stretches as far as Central Asia, has recorded more than 7 million new cases of Covid-19 during the first week of 2022. In addition, according to WHO data, as of January 10, 26 countries have reported that more than 1% of their populations tested positive for Covid-19 every week. For Mr. Kluge, the “unprecedented” scale of the transmission has led to an increase in hospitalizations, with the death rate remaining stable.

Objective: stabilize the pandemic

The vague current ” challenges healthcare systems and service delivery in many countries where Omicron has spread widely speed, and threatens to spill over into many other “, He lamented.

« There is a higher fraction of asymptomatic cases, there is a lower fraction of people needing hospitalization and death rates in hospitals are lower “, Underlined Mr. Kluge, who noted thevaccine efficacy already approved.

However, the WHO has also noted that it is currently impossible to qualify the virus endemic as is influenza. « We still have a virus that evolves quite quickly and poses new challenges. We are therefore certainly not at the point of being able to qualify it as endemic. », Said the person in charge of emergency situations at WHO Europe, Catherine Smallwood.

« This virus surprised us more than once, concluded the regional director. The main goal for 2022 is to stabilize the pandemic “. In the world, the pandemic has killed nearly 5.5 million people, according to a toll compiled by AFP from official sources, which could actually be two to three times higher, according to the WHO.

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