On Tuesday, World Health Organization (WHO) European Regional Director Hans Kluge indicated that the Omicron variant in Europe might become more prevalent as the Omicron wave continues to spread eastward rapidly.
Hans Kluge, World Health Organization (WHO) European Regional Director, noted on Tuesday that the Omicron strain might become dominant in Europe as the wave of infections continues to spread eastward.
"I am also deeply concerned that as the variant moves east, we have yet to see its full impact in countries where levels of vaccination uptake are lower. We will see more severe disease in the unvaccinated," Kluge stated. He said the Omicron is now spreading to the Balkans and is already present in 50 of the countries in Europe and Central Asia.
"At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasts that more than 50 percent of the population in the Region will be infected with Omicron in the next 6 to 8 weeks," he said. The WHO European Regional Director stressed the rise evidenced in the hospitalizations, given the high rate of transmissions in the region.
To better manage the coronavirus's impact on economies, health services, and societies, Kluge suggested practical actions, which means acting immediately and planning for contingencies and prioritizing response systems during the "closing window of opportunity."
He stressed the importance of protecting the vulnerable and "minimizing disruption to health systems and essential services." "Keeping schools open benefits children's mental, social, and educational well-being significantly. School buildings should be the last to close and the first to reopen," the WHO officer said.
Kluge labeled as his five pandemic stabilizing mantras: vaccination, third doses or boosters, increased mask use, ventilation of crowded or enclosed spaces, and the continued use of new clinical protocols to guide the response to Delta or Omicron variant.
"We're still a way off. Endemicity assumes, first of all, a stable circulation of the virus at predictable levels and potentially known and predictable waves of epidemic transmission," Senior Emergency Services Officer at WHO Europe, Catherine Smallwood, answered when asked about an opinion on Spain's recent request to the European Union for discussing the possibility of COVID-19 to be classified as an endemic illness, similar to the flu or malaria, which is always present in a particular population or region.