HomeCoronavirusCovid live news: Omicron could mean ‘pandemic endgame’ in Europe, WHO says

Covid live news: Omicron could mean ‘pandemic endgame’ in Europe, WHO says

The Omicron variant has moved the Covid-19 pandemic into a new phase and could bring it to an end in Europe, the WHO Europe director has said.

“It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Hans Kluge told AFP, adding that Omicron could infect 60% of Europeans by March.

Once the current surge of Omicron sweeping across Europe subsides, “there will be for quite some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection, and also lowering seasonality”.

“We anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before Covid-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back,” Kluge said.






WHO Europe regional head Hans Kluge says Omicron could mean ‘a kind of pandemic endgame’ for Europe. Photograph: Johanna Geron/Reuters

Top US scientist Anthony Fauci expressed similar optimism on Sunday, telling ABC News talk show “This Week” that with Covid-19 cases coming down “rather sharply” in parts of the United States, “things are looking good”.

While cautioning against over confidence, he said that if the recent fall in case numbers in areas like the US’s northeast continued, “I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country”.

The WHO regional office for Africa also said last week that cases of Covid had plummeted in that region and deaths were declining for the first time since the Omicron-dominated fourth wave of the virus reached its peak.

The Omicron variant, which studies have shown is more contagious than Delta but generally leads to less severe infection among vaccinated people, has raised long-awaited hopes that Covid-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu.

But Kluge cautioned that it was still too early to consider Covid-19 endemic.

“There is a lot of talk about endemic but endemic means … that it is possible to predict what’s going to happen. This virus has surprised (us) more than once so we have to be very careful,” Kluge said.

With Omicron spreading so widely, other variants could still emerge, he warned.

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