WHO has predicted that over half of Europe’s population will be infected with Omicron variant of Coronavirus within the next 5-7 weeks.
This is because of the more than 7 million new Covid-19 cases reported in the region in the first week of 2022 and the numbers have been doubling every two weeks.
Dr. Hans Kluge, the Director of World Health Organization in Europe stated that “At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasts that more than 50 percent of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next 6-8 weeks.”
The Institute released their results covering the European Union on Jan 8 and they wrote that “Our models for the European Union suggest that infections will peak at just under 5 million in the middle of January, although national peaks will vary considerably, with later peaks in the eastern part of the EU.
“We expect more than 50 percent of the EU population will be infected by Omicron in the next 6 – 8 weeks. The infection-detection rate (IDR) is declining, although shortages of testing may lead to more rapid decrease in the IDR than we currently model.”
The Institute projects that reported cases in Europe will reach 1.9 million by the third week of January and then decline quickly.
The Institute wrote that:
“Because the prevalence of Omicron infection is so high, many individuals hospitalised for other conditions will have asymptomatic infections. Incidental admissions may exceed 50 percent of total Covid admissions in some countries.”
The institute also revealed that deaths will increase just slightly because Omicron is known to be less severe compared to Delta variant.
According to WHO Europe director, at least 26 countries in Europe reported that more than 1% of their population are being infected. With Covid-19 every week. Countries have a “closing window of opportunity” to prevent their health systems from being overwhelmed.
“Omicron moves faster and wider than any (previous) variant we have seen”, he added.
WHO is advising European countries to mandate the use of masks indoors and provide vaccination as well as booster doses. The wave of Omicron across Europe is expected to have a huge impact on countries which have a lower vaccination rate.
Catherine Smallwood, the Who Emergency officer Europe, took the opportunity to warn against countries treating Covid-19 as an endemic disease such as flu rather than a pandemic.
“We still have a huge amount of uncertainty and a virus that is evolving quite quickly, imposing new challenges. We are certainly not at the point where we are able to call it endemic,” said Ms. Smallwood.
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