Europe could be headed for COVID-19 pandemic 'endgame': WHO

Europe could be headed for COVID-19 pandemic 'endgame': WHO

23/1/2022 10:45:00 PM

Europe could be headed for COVID-19 pandemic 'endgame': WHO

COPENHAGEN: 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 said Sunday (Jan 23). \u0022It\u0027s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,\u0022 Hans Kluge told AFP in an interview, adding that Omicron coul

Once the current surge of Omicron currently 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".

He told 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".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.

Read more: CNA »

18-year-old gunman kills 19 children, 2 teachers at Texas elementary school

UVALDE — A gunman opened fire at an elementary school in South Texas on Tuesday (May 24), killing 14 children and one teacher, before the suspect himself died, Governor Greg Abbott told reporters, in the latest spasm of mass shootings sweeping the United States. Read more >>

2,463 new Covid-19 cases in Singapore and 1 deathSINGAPORE — Singapore reported 2,463 new Covid-19 cases as of noon on Saturday (Jan 22), comprising 2,218 local and 245 imported infections. Why we still don't start disinfecting public places?

2,463 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore and 1 deathSINGAPORE: Singapore reported 2,463 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Saturday (Jan 22), comprising 2,218 local and 245 imported infections. The infections include the n

Fewer exhibitors at Singapore Airshow as Covid-19 concerns and restrictions bite

India-Windies series to be played in two cities due to COVID-19 - BCCIIndia's upcoming One Day International and Twenty20 international series against West Indies will be hosted in two cities to minimise 'biosecurity risks' amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) said on Saturday.The white-ball series was originally intended to be played across six venue

‘Stealth Omicron’: Everything we know about new ‘under investigation’ Covid-19 strain BA.2It’s harder to detect than original Omicron and may be even faster at spreading but, say scientists, is probably no more dangerous

French COVID-19 vaccine pass opponents demonstratePARIS: Hundreds joined a series of small-scale demonstrations in France on Saturday (Jan 22) two days before tighter restrictions come into force against people holding out against having a COVID-19 vaccine. Opponents of the policy say the reinforced measures will impinge upon daily \u0022freedoms\u0022 and rai

LinkedIn COPENHAGEN: 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 said Sunday (Jan 23). "It's plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame," Hans Kluge told AFP in an interview, adding that Omicron could infect 60 per cent of Europeans by March. Once the current surge of Omicron currently 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. Top US scientist Anthony Fauci expressed similar optimism on Sunday. He told 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 continues"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. Related: Europe loosens COVID-19 policies as Omicron takes out key workers FOCUS ON"MINIMISING DISRUPTION" The European Commissioner for Internal Markets, Thierry Breton, whose brief includes vaccine production, said Sunday that it will be possible to adapt existing vaccines to any new variants that may emerge. "We will be able to better resist, including to new variants", he told French television LCI. "We will be ready to adapt the vaccines, especially the mRNA ones, if necessary to adapt them to more virulent variants". In the WHO Europe region, which comprises 53 countries including several in Central Asia, Omicron represented 15 per cent of new cases as of Jan 18, compared to 6.3 per cent a week earlier, the health body said. Omicron is now the dominant variant in the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA, or Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), the EU health agency ECDC said last week. Because of the very fast spread of the variant across Europe, Kluge said emphasis ought to be on"minimising disruption of hospitals, schools and the economy, and putting huge efforts on protecting the vulnerable", rather than measures to stop transmission. He meanwhile urged people to exercise personal responsibility. "If you don't feel well, stay home, take a self test. If you're positive, isolate", he said. Kluge said the priority was to stabilise the situation in Europe, where vaccination levels range across countries from 25 to 95 per cent of the population, leading to varying degrees of strain on hospitals and health-care system. "Stabilising means that the health system is no longer overwhelmed due to COVID-19 and can continue with the essential health services, which have unfortunately been really disrupted for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and routine immunisation". Asked whether fourth doses would be necessary to bring an end to the pandemic, Kluge was cautious, saying only that"we know that that immunity jumps up after each shot of the vaccine".