WHO: Premature to consider COVID-19 as endemic disease

The uncertainty related to the coronavirus, the high transmissibility of the omicron variant and the hospital burden derived from it make it premature to think of treating COVID-19 as an endemic disease, the regional office for Europe of the World Organization of Health (WHO).

“We must be very cautious with predictions about the future,” said the director of WHO-Europe, Hans Kluge, at a press conference, who insisted that the priority right now is to protect vulnerable groups and health personnel, as well as minimize disruption to the economy and schools.

Kluge recalled that the coronavirus has surprised “more than once” and that “it is not a good idea” to make forecasts, in addition to highlighting that the fundamental objective for this year is “to stabilize the pandemic.”

The head of emergencies of WHO-Europe, Catherine Smallwood, pointed out in the same appearance that “we are not at that point of the pandemic” and that its evolution will depend a lot “on the actions we take collectively in Europe and around the world ”.

More than 7 million new cases have been registered in the region – which comprises 53 countries in Europe and Central Asia – in the first seven days of the year, double the number two weeks earlier, WHO noted, although death rates are they remain stable and are highest where the incidence is highest and the vaccination rate is lowest.

Kluge expressed his concern about the impact of omicron in Eastern countries, where the percentage of the population vaccinated is lower, and recalled that vaccines continue to provide “good protection” against severe cases and death.

The director of WHO-Europe insisted on the importance of keeping schools open for the mental, social and educational well-being of children and that they should be the last place to close and the first to reopen.

Ensuring good ventilation, hand hygiene and the use of masks, as well as including teachers and other school personnel among the priority groups to receive the vaccine and the booster dose should be central aspects, according to the WHO.

With information from EFE.

LLH

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