WorldAt the current rate, more than 50% of Europeans...

At the current rate, more than 50% of Europeans affected by Omicron within two months, according to the WHO

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Worried about the “tidal wave” of Omicron, the European branch of the World Health Organization estimated on Tuesday that more than 50% of Europeans could be affected by the new variant of the coronavirus within two months, in view of the current rate of contamination.

The mutations presented by this variant “allow it to adhere more easily to human cells, which can infect even people who have been previously infected or vaccinated,” said Hans Kluge, director of WHO Europe, at a press conference in line.

7 million new cases in the first week of 2022 alone

The region, which has 53 countries and stretches as far as Central Asia, recorded more than 7 million new cases of Covid-19 in the first week of 2022. In addition, according to WHO data, Since January 10, 26 countries have reported that more than 1% of their population tested positive for Covid-19 every week.

For Hans Kluge, the “unprecedented” scale of transmission has led to an increase in hospitalizations, with the death rate remaining stable. The current wave “challenges health systems and service delivery in many countries where Omicron has spread at high speed, and threatens to spill over into many others,” he lamented.

“There is a higher fraction of asymptomatic cases, there is a lower fraction of people needing hospitalization and the death rates in hospitals are lower,” stressed Hans Kluge, who noted the efficacy of vaccines already approved.

A virus that cannot yet be called endemic

However, the WHO also noted that it is currently impossible to qualify the virus as endemic as influenza is. “We still have a virus that evolves quite quickly and poses new challenges. We are therefore certainly not at the point of being able to qualify it as endemic ”, affirms the person in charge of emergency situations at WHO Europe, Catherine Smallwood.

“This virus surprised us more than once,” concluded the regional director. “The main objective to be achieved for 2022 is to stabilize the pandemic”. Globally, the pandemic has killed nearly 5.5 million people, according to a toll compiled by AFP from official sources, which could actually be two to three times higher, according to the WHO.

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