Copenhagen, Feb 3 (UNI/Xinhua): The European region is approaching “a plausible endgame” in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic while the cases were still surging, a senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
“For now, the number of deaths across the Region is starting to plateau,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s European Regional Director, said at a press conference.
The region has seen 12 million new cases of Covid-19 in the last week, the highest weekly total since the pandemic began. The success of current protection measures is evident despite a rise in hospitalisations, according to Kluge, who noted that it has not been “as rapid as the case incidence rate, and overall, admissions to intensive care have not increased significantly”.
“It is possible to respond to new variants that will inevitably emerge — without re-installing the kind of disruptive measures we needed before,” said the WHO official.
According to Kluge, the convergence of three factors — vaccine, natural immunity and the milder Omicron variant — provides “an opportunity to take control of transmissions”.
“This period of higher protection should be seen as a ceasefire that could bring us enduring peace,” said Kluge.
However, “enduring peace” was contingent, according to Kluge, on authorities’ ability to “consolidate and preserve immunity” through vaccination, strong governmental oversight and commitment, self-protecting behaviour and individual responsibility, and “intensified surveillance”. Referring to the Omicron variants sweeping from the European region’s highly vaccinated West to the poorly vaccinated East, Kluge emphasised that the top priority was to bring all countries in the region to a similar level of protection.
“This demands a drastic and uncompromising increase in vaccine-sharing across borders. We cannot accept vaccine inequity for one more day — vaccines must be for everyone, in the remotest corner of our vast region and beyond,” he said.