Omicron infections will account for half of all European infected persons within months. This is what the EU’s Health Body has been warning about today, as it raised concerns over Covid.
The European Centre for Disease control scientists ranked Omicron as very dangerous in the first situation report they issued after it was found in south Africa.
Their report states that Omicron could cause a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness and increase the risk of reinfection for those with the disease.
It has been found in 13 EU countries, the UK and other places. Some cases have seen community spreading.
Omicron could account for half of Europe’s Covid cases in the ‘next few months,’ warns EU’s disease control agency (file image).
Omicron still has much to confirm, and whether it can cause more serious illness. However, ECDC predicts that it will account for 50% of Europe’s Omicron cases within the next few weeks as it out-competes Delta.
According to the agency’s memo, “The likelihood of Omicron VOC introduction and spread in the community is currently evaluated as high.”
The impact of Omicron being introduced and expanded further could prove to be devastating. But, it is worth evaluating the situation as new information comes in.
While Omicron is still considered a risk, the consequences of being infected are “highly uncertain”. However, the report cautions that Omicron can be transmitted to people who have not been vaccinated.
WHO’s initial data indicates that the majority of infections are mild. There have been very few deaths and very few hospitalisations among the many hundred cases.
Some, including Germany’s future health minister, have suggested that Omicron may be a blessing disguised as it reduces Covid’s overall effect.
However, scientists warn that Omicron’s severity is still not known. The data set will be analyzed over the next two- to three week.
Europe already suffered from an epidemic of Delta-related infections, and Omicron may have a’very large’ impact, according to ECDC. (pictured, the current EU cases)
Omicron was detected so far in more than two dozen countries, including thirteen in the EU. However, most of these have been associated with travel to southern Africa.
The ECDC suggests that you vaccinate as many people against Covid as possible until then. This includes those who are not currently vaccinated or have yet to get a shot.
Scientists recommend that boosters be administered only to people over 40 and those with serious health issues.
According to the report, over-18s can be offered a boost as a precautionary measure. However, it should not begin until six months after their first vaccine course has been completed.
The report states that physical distancing, adequate ventilation in closed spaces and the proper use of masks are all important.
Although travel bans can help to slow down the spread of the disease, experts believe that they will be less effective as the number of local infected increases.
“Countries should prepare to a rapid, measured de-escalation such measures’ after community cases reach a threshold, adds the report.
On Friday, Omicron was first confirmed in Belgium. Since then Omicron has been found in 13 EU countries and the UK.
It was discovered in the Netherlands, on 19 November 1999. This was confirmed by retroactive testing Covid specimens.
The ECDC advises that leaders urgently vacinate anyone who has not been jabbed yet or received a second dose prior to giving boosters.
Although most of these cases are found in travelers from south Africa where it is believed that the variant originated, some cases of community spreading have occurred.
Today, Norwegian health officials claim that between 50-60 people were infected by the variant after they attended a Christmas party. This was despite everyone being tested negative and having been vaccinated.
This is after some party-goers travelled to South Africa last Wednesday for a conference on renewable energy.
Omicron is a concern for scientists because of its mutations and potential spread to other Covid forms.
Data from South Africa where it was discovered early suggests that the variant spreads much faster than Delta. The number of cases has increased 400% within one week.
It remains to be determined if this leads to an increase in hospital deaths and admissions.
South Africa’s chief vaccine officer has stated today that it’s ‘good news so far’. Hospitals are reporting an increase in admissions, but not as high as previous waves.
However, he said: “We have had this virus for less than a week. I believe we should be watching this space.”