“What we’re seeing at the moment coming into 2022 is nowhere near that,” she said.
Catherine Smallwood, the senior emergencies officer at WHO Europe, told reporters on Tuesday that endemicity assumed “stable circulation of the virus at predictable levels and potentially known and predictable waves of epidemic transmission”.
“We still have a huge amount of uncertainty, we still have a virus that is evolving quite quickly and posing quite new challenges,” added Smallwood.
Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s prime minister, earlier this week called for a change in approach that would accept that coronavirus has become endemic.
Europe has registered record-breaking cases in recent weeks, though vaccines and previous waves of infection have helped blunt the impact on hospitals.
“We are heading towards an endemic illness rather than the pandemic it’s been up to now,” he told Spain’s Cadena Ser radio on Monday. “We have to respond to this situation with new tools that are linked more closely to vaccination, to protection through masks, to institutional co-operation, the contribution of science, and. international solidarity.”
Still, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said that “because of the unprecedented scale of transmission” hospitalisations were now rising.
He added that if cases continued to spread at the current rate, more than half of the European population would be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks.
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