WHO predicts that half of Europe will be infected with Omicron
In a recent news conference, the World Health Organisation has warned that approximately half of Europeans could become infected with the Omicron variant in the next six to eight weeks.
The WHO says that, based on the number of cases reported during the first week of the year in Europe, new cases could soar in the coming weeks.
Since the start of 2022, there have been seven million new cases in Europe of the Omicron variant, along with a surge in the Delta variant in some areas.
The number of infections has more than doubled in the last two weeks, leading to warnings from the WHO that there could now be a “west-to-east tidal wave” of Omicron in the region.
When speaking at the news conference, Dr. Hans Kluge said, “Today the Omicron variant represents a new west-to-east tidal wave, sweeping across the region on top of the Delta surge that all countries were managing until late 2021.”
He went on to quote a forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which states that “more than 50 percent of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks”.
“How each country now responds must be informed by its epidemiological situation, available resources, vaccination uptake status and socio-economic context”, he added.
How dangerous is the Omicron variant?
According to recent studies, the Omicron variant could pose less of a risk to the public than previous variants. However, many countries are struggling as the virus spreads, as it’s still highly contagious and carriers can infect others even if they’ve been vaccinated.
Health systems are already strained in many countries due to increased staff absences and high numbers of people being hospitalised due to the virus.
The Delta variant is continuing to put pressure on intensive care departments in Europe’s hospitals, and this is predicted to worsen in January.