The Omicron variant of covid-19 is on track to infect more than half of Europeans, but should not yet be viewed as an endemic flu-like disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
“At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations foresees that more than 50% of the population in the European region will be infected with omicron in the next six or eight weeks,” said the director of the WHO in that continent. Hans Kluge, in an appearance before the media.
There is growing evidence that Omicron affects the upper respiratory tract more than the lungs, causing milder symptoms than previous variants, but the WHO cautioned that more studies are needed to prove this.
The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, commented yesterday that it could be time to change the way of following the evolution of the coronavirus to use a method similar to that of the flu, because its lethality decreased. That would mean treating the virus as an “endemic disease”, rather than a pandemic, without registering every case and without testing all people with symptoms.
However, that is still “very far”, assured in the briefing the director of emergencies of the WHO for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, adding that endemicity requires stable and predictable transmission.
“We still have enormous uncertainty and a virus that evolves quite quickly, imposing new challenges. Certainly, we are not at the point where we can classify it as endemic,” he said, adding that “it could become endemic in due course, but specify that until 2022 is a bit difficult at this stage. “