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Omicron phase is taking Europe to a Covid-19 pandemic ‘endgame’: WHO

WHO Europe is expecting that after the current surge subsides there will be global immunity for at least a few weeks or months due to deeper vaccine penetration, acquired immunity due to the infection and low seasonality.

Shoppers in Copenhagen, Denmark, (Charlotte de la Fuente/The New York Times)

Even though the Omicron variant has caused a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases worldwide, even in Europe, the WHO director in the region is expecting that it would bring an end to the pandemic, Hans Kluge talking to news agency AFP said that it is possible that Europe is inching close to a pandemic endgame. The variant can infect 60 per cent of the Europeans by March, he said.

Kluge is expecting that after the current surge subsides there will be global immunity for at least a few weeks or months due to deeper vaccine penetration, acquired immunity due to the infection and low seasonality. There will be a quiet period before Covid-19 bounces back by the end of the year, but not in the form of a pandemic.

Top US scientist Anthony Fauci also resonated the same. Talking to ABC News talk show “The Week” Covid-19 cases came down “ sharply” in parts of the United States and that things are looking good and are hopeful to see a turnaround throughout the entire country. The WHO office in Africa also is optimistic that the omicron -dominated fourth wave will shift the pandemic to a manageable endemic state. Deaths are also declining in the region even when cases have plummeted.

Kluge, however, warns that it is too early to consider Covid-19 as an endemic as the virus has surprised more than once and the chances of new variants emerging are high.

According to European Commissioner for Internal Markets, Thierry Breton,it is possible to adapt existing vaccines, especially the mRNA once to new emerging virulent variants in future.

Omicron is the dominant variant in the European Union and in the Europe region comprising 53 countries, 15 per cent of the cases as on January 18 are of Omicron, ECDC, the health agency of EU said.

Kluge finds minimising disruptions in healthcare facilities, economy are protecting the vulnerable section is the key in tackling the Omicron surge. The health system has been stabilized as in essential health services for cardiovascular diseases, cancer and routine immunisation has not been disrupted due to Covid-19 as was in the earlier waves.

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