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Greater than half of Europe might be contaminated with omicron within the subsequent 2 months: WHO

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

Dan Kitwood | Getty Photos Information | Getty Photos

LONDON — Greater than 50% of Europe’s inhabitants might be contaminated with the extremely contagious omicron Covid-19 variant over the subsequent two months, in keeping with forecasts shared by a prime World Well being Group official.

Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, cited information from the Seattle-based Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis at a information briefing Tuesday, saying a brand new “West to East tidal wave” of omicron infections was sweeping throughout the area, on prime of the earlier delta variant which continues to be prevalent.

“It [omicron] is shortly changing into the dominant virus in Western Europe and is now spreading into the Balkans,” Kluge mentioned. He added that the area noticed greater than 7 million infections within the first week of 2022, greater than doubling over a two-week interval.

“At this price, the Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis forecasts that greater than 50% of the inhabitants within the area might be contaminated with omicron within the subsequent six to eight weeks,” he added.

Omicron has swept the area at an alarming tempo, with some nations reintroducing social restrictions in an effort to curb it. Nevertheless, early proof means that omicron is less severe than the delta variant, though there are considerations that the sheer variety of infections may nonetheless overwhelm well being programs.

John Bell, a regius professor of drugs on the College of Oxford and the U.Okay. authorities’s life sciences advisor, advised the BBC in late December that omicron was “not the identical illness” as earlier strains.

“The horrific scenes that we noticed a 12 months in the past — intensive care models being full, a number of individuals dying prematurely — that’s now historical past in my opinion and I believe we needs to be reassured that that is more likely to proceed,” he mentioned.

Discussing the omicron variant, he added: “The illness does look like much less extreme, and many individuals spend a comparatively brief time in hospital. They do not want high-flow oxygen, common size of keep is seemingly three days.”

Kluge acknowledged Tuesday that mortality charges had remained steady and continued to be highest in nations with excessive Covid-19 incidence charges, mixed with decrease vaccination uptake.

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