Greater than half of Europe will probably be contaminated with omicron within the…

More than half of Europe will be infected with omicron in the...

Members of the general public queue for Covid-19 vaccinations and booster jabs at St Thomas’ Hospital on December 14, 2021 in London, England.

Dan Kitwood | Getty Photographs Information | Getty Photographs

LONDON — Greater than 50% of Europe’s inhabitants will probably be contaminated with the extremely contagious omicron Covid-19 variant over the following two months, based on forecasts shared by a high World Well being Group official.

Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, cited information from the Seattle-based Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis at a information briefing Tuesday, saying {that a} new “West to East tidal wave” of omicron infections was sweeping throughout the area, on high of the earlier delta variant which continues to be prevalent.

“It [omicron] is rapidly changing into the dominant virus in Western Europe and is now spreading into the Balkans,” Kluge mentioned. He added that the area noticed greater than 7 million infections within the first week of 2022, greater than doubling over a two-week interval.

“At this charge, the Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis forecasts that greater than 50% of the inhabitants within the area will probably be contaminated with omicron within the subsequent six to eight weeks,” he added.

Omicron has swept the area at an alarming tempo, with some international locations reintroducing social restrictions in an effort to curb it. Nevertheless, early proof means that omicron is much less extreme than the delta variant, though there are considerations that the sheer variety of infections might nonetheless overwhelm well being techniques.

John Bell, a regius professor of drugs on the College of Oxford and the U.Ok. authorities’s life sciences advisor, instructed the BBC in late December that omicron was “not the identical illness” as earlier strains.

“The horrific scenes that we noticed a yr in the past — intensive care items being full, a number of individuals dying prematurely — that’s now historical past for my part and I feel we must be reassured that that is prone to proceed,” he mentioned.

Discussing the omicron variant, he added: “The illness does seem like much less extreme, and many individuals spend a comparatively quick time in hospital. They do not want high-flow oxygen, common size of keep is outwardly three days.”

Kluge acknowledged on Tuesday that mortality charges had remained secure and continued to be highest in international locations with excessive Covid-19 incidence charges, mixed with decrease vaccination uptake.

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