Mumbai: WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge has said that “it’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame”. He added Omicron could infect 60% of Europeans by March.
As cases continue to rise in many parts of the world, including India, officials working with the World Health Organization have repeatedly stressed that 2022 could be the year the pandemic ends.
As we enter the third year of this pandemic, I believe this will be the year we end it – but only if we do it together,” said WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on 30th December last year. Officials however expect a majority of the world’s population to have been infected before this happens.
According to WHO Europe director Hans Kluge, the Omicron version has pushed the pandemic to a new stage and could potentially end it in the continent. “It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Kluge told AFP in an interview recently. He also opined that the new variant could infect 60% of Europeans by March.
The Omicron variant, which studies have shown typically causes less severe infections in vaccinated people than Delta, has raised long-awaited hopes that COVID-19 is more likely to be a seasonal flu than a pandemic. would be a more manageable endemic disease. started moving towards.
The WHO official’s comments have raised some hope for Europe, which is currently under a wave led by the highly permeable Omicron but also has a message for the rest of the world.
The director of WHO Europe said it is likely that the coronavirus disease will return as an endemic, but this is a more favourable situation than the current scenario.
“There’s a lot of talk about spatial but spatial means … it’s possible to predict what’s going to happen,” Kluge said. “This virus has startled (us) more than once so we have to be very careful.”
Closer to home, while India continues to report a steady rise in its active COVID-19 caseload, officials argue that the third wave of infections has already peaked in several major cities and states. Others are also expected to have their case peak within weeks.
“Looking at the COVID-19 vaccination status and the natural infection, we can say that very soon, the majority of us will be getting an infection. And then this virus will convert into the endemic virus,” top AIIMS epidemiologist Dr Sanjay Rai told news agency ANI on Sunday.
However, the global situation is currently far from an ‘endemic phase’. In its latest technical briefing, the WHO warned that despite the low risk associated with the Omicron variant, extremely high levels of transmission have resulted in a “significant increase in hospitalizations, continuing enormous demands on health care systems in most countries, and may cause significant morbidity, especially in vulnerable populations.”