According to World Health Organization (WHO) last week, Europe and central Asia saw 27 000 additional COVID-19 deaths and 2.6 million new cases. Infections, still predominantly from the Delta variant are 40% higher now than during the same period last year.
Since its identification was 27 days ago, the Omicron variant of concern has been detected in atleast 38 of the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region.
Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe said, “Omicron is becoming or already has become dominant in several countries, including in Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom, where its numbers are doubling every one and a half to 3 days, generating previously unseen transmission rates.”
Within weeks, Omicron will dominate in more countries of the Region, pushing already stretched health systems further to the brink. Omicron is likely to become the dominant variant circulating in our Region,” said Dr. Hans Henri
The sheer volume of new COVID-19 infections could lead to more hospitalizations and widespread disruption to health systems and other critical services. It has unfortunately already resulted in hospitalizations and deaths,” Dr. Hans Henri
WHO Regional Director for Europesaid that this variant can evade previous immunity in people – so it can still infect those who have had COVID-19 in the past, those who are unvaccinated, and those who were vaccinated many months ago. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 are 3 to 5 times more likely to be reinfected with Omicron compared to Delta. We don’t yet know whether Omicron causes more severe disease than the Delta variant.
On a positive note, Dr. Hans Henri said that early evidence supports the assumption that COVID-19 vaccines continue to do their job and save lives. Based on the earliest Omicron cases reported to WHO/Europe, 89% of those people reported common COVID-19 symptoms – cough, sore throat, fever.
“Up until now, the virus has been transmitted mostly among adults in their 20s and 30s, spreading initially in large cities and in clusters associated with social and workplace gatherings,” said Dr. Hans Henri