HomeEuropeNew Omicron strain likely to cause increase in COVID-19 cases, says EU...

New Omicron strain likely to cause increase in COVID-19 cases, says EU health agency

A new Omicron strain that has been detected in at least five countries in the EU or EEA is likely to become dominant in the region later this year and lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the EU’s disease control agency said Friday. 

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) pointed to preliminary data from Asia indicating that the Omicron variant BQ.1 has the “ability to considerably evade the immune system response.” At the moment, there isn’t any evidence that the strain leads to increased disease severity compared to the other circulating Omicron variants, the ECDC said.  

“Countries should remain vigilant for signals of BQ.1 emergence and spread, and maintain sensitive and representative testing,” urged ECDC Director Andrea Ammon. The ECDC said that it’s expected additional booster doses will be needed for people most at risk of severe disease. 

France currently has the highest proportion of samples testing positive for the Omicron variant BQ.1, with 19 percent of collected samples being of that strain. Belgium is next with 9 percent of samples. At a briefing last week, infectious diseases doctor Yves Van Laethem told a Belgian health ministry briefing that there “are good chances it will take over in the coming weeks.”

Although the latest Omicron variants typically cause less severe illness than earlier strains of the virus, health leaders worry that their rapid spread — combined with a resurgence of influenza — could spell another tough winter. Health systems and staff have been worn down by the pandemic, while millions of people struggling to pay their fuel bills would be susceptible to the cold.



Source by [author_name]

- Advertisment -