More than half of Europe will be infected with omicron in the next 2 months: WHO

Members of the public queue for Covid-19 vaccinations and booster shots at St Thomas’ Hospital on December 14, 2021 in London, England.

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LONDON – More than 50% of Europe’s population will be infected with the highly contagious omicron variant Covid-19 over the next two months, according to forecasts shared by a senior official at the World Health Organization.

Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, cited data from the Seattle Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at a press conference on Tuesday as saying that a new “tidal wave of ‘west to east’ of omicron infections swept through the region, in addition to the previous delta variant that still prevails.

“This [omicron] is quickly becoming the dominant virus in Western Europe and is now spreading in the Balkans, ”Kluge said. He added that the region has experienced more than 7 million infections in the first week of 2022, which has more than doubled in two weeks.

“At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that more than 50% of the region’s population will be infected with omicron in the next six to eight weeks,” he added.

Omicron has swept the region at an alarming rate, with some countries reintroducing social restrictions in an attempt to curb them. However, early evidence suggests that the omicron is less severe than the delta variant, although there are concerns that the large number of infections may still overwhelm health systems.

John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford and UK government life science adviser, told the BBC in late December that omicron was “not the same disease” as the previous strains.

“The horrific scenes that we saw a year ago – with the intensive care units full, a lot of people are dying prematurely – now is old history in my opinion and I think we should be reassured. on the fact that this will probably continue, ”he said.

Discussing the omicron variant, he added: “The disease appears to be less severe, and many people spend a relatively short time in the hospital. They do not need high flow oxygen, the average length of stay. is apparently three days. “

Kluge said on Tuesday that death rates had remained stable and continued to be highest in countries with high incidence rates of Covid-19, combined with weaker vaccination.

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