- Top WHO experts seem to disagree on whether Omicron can spell the end of the pandemic.
- On Sunday, the WHO’s regional director for Europe suggested that the edition could mark the beginning of an “endgame” for Europe.
- But on Monday, the head of the WHO said it was “dangerous to believe” that Omicron is the final version.
Top World Health Organization officials expressed conflicting views on whether Omicron’s dominance signals a possible end to the pandemic.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization on Monday cautioned against assuming that the pandemic is approaching an “endgame” and said it is now “dangerous” to believe that Omicron will be the final version.
“In contrast, globally, conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a briefing in Geneva.
“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic might play out. And how the acute phase might end. But it’s dangerous to assume that O’Micron will be the final version or that we’re in the endgame,” he said.
His warning came as health experts and pundits raised hopes that a more contagious yet reportedly mild omicron variant could signal the final stretch of the pandemic’s rapid period.
A day earlier, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, told Agence France Presse that “it is plausible that the region is moving towards the end of a kind of pandemic.”
Given how Omicron is spreading across Europe, the region will experience “a global immunity in quite a few weeks and months” due to immunity from both infections and vaccines and the “low season”, Kluge said.
“We anticipate that there will be a period of peace before COVID-19 returns at the end of the year, but the pandemic does not necessarily return,” Kluge said.
Europe has reported nearly 115 million COVID infections among its 750 million residents. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Omicron, which is believed to induce less severe disease than Delta but can still cause hospitalization and death, is now the cause of the virus in most European countries. The main stress.
Top US health expert Anthony Fauci also presented a rosier outlook for Americans, saying on Sunday that he was “as confident as you can be” that Omicron would peak in most states by mid-February.
He told ABC’s “This Week” that the US will begin to see “changes” with the pandemic as daily cases begin to decline.
The US reported nearly 222,000 COVID-19 cases on Monday, while cases rose to a record 1.3 million on January 10. Omicron now also has the highest number of COVID cases in the US.
Still, all three experts – Tedros, Kluge and Fauci – urged caution and advised against overconfidence.
“There’s a lot of talk about endemic, but endemic means it’s possible to predict what’s going to happen. This virus has taken us by surprise more than once, so we have to be very careful,” Kluge told AFP. Will happen.”
Tedros offered some bullishness on the pandemic, saying that COVID-19 may no longer be a global health emergency in 2022 if the world rallies to hit the WHO’s targets, which include 70 of each country’s population. % vaccination and closely monitoring its spread. Virus to take new forms.
The WHO has long condemned the huge gap in access to vaccines between poor and rich countries. Tedros warned repeatedly that leaving large populations around the world unvaccinated would affect every country’s progress against the pandemic.
“It is true that we will live with COVID for the foreseeable future and we need to learn to manage it through a continuous and integrated system for acute respiratory diseases, which will provide a platform for preparedness for future pandemics,” Tedros said.
“But learning to live with COVID doesn’t mean we give this virus a free ride. It may not mean we accept about 50,000 deaths a week from a preventable and treatable disease.”