Current modeling suggests that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 will infect more than half of the population of Europe in the next six to eight weeks, the WHO’s regional director for Europe has said on Tuesday.
Citing a study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Hans Kluge noted that data collected in recent weeks confirm that Omicron is highly transmissible, underscoring that it is becoming a dominant variant in Western Europe and that is now spreading in the Balkans.
Europe has been put under increased pressure this winter by the record Covid-19 cases and some countries are already scaling up restrictions while others, such as Italy, Austria, and Greece have announced new vaccine requirements.
Kluge stressed that countries that have not yet been affected by the surge of the highly transmissible Omicron to ensure access to high-quality masks to vulnerable and to mandate using them both in closed spaces and in indoor settings.
He pointed his deep concern about eastern Europe where the Omicron surging will most likely cause more severe disease due to the large number of unvaccinated people despite the abundance of Covid-19 vaccines.
The vaccine’s availability was also confirmed by the data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which tracks vaccinations in the European Union, which has yet to see the full impact of the variant.