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WHO officials claim end in sight to the pandemic is very 'plausible' due to mild Omicron variant

Kluge cautioned that people should still take precautions due to the coronavirus’ ability to mutate, but predicted a 'period of quiet' following the surge of Omicron.

WHO officials claim end in sight to pandemic is very 'plausible' due to mild Omicron variant
AP Photo/Andreea ALexandru
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The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the end of the pandemic is entirely “plausible,” as the Omicron variant is leading to a “period of quiet.”

Officials from the WHO claimed on Sunday that there is an end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe following the rapid spread of the milder Omicron variant, which quickly surpassed Delta as the dominant variant of the coronavirus due to its high transmissibility.

“It's plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Regional Director Hans Kluge said to the AFP news agency, per France24.

Kluge warned, however, that people should still take precautions due to the coronavirus’ ability to mutate, but predicted a “period of quiet” following the surge of Omicron.

“We anticipate there will be a level of quiet before COVID-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic,” he said.

“There is a lot of talk about endemic but endemic means ... that it is possible to predict what's going to happen. This virus has surprised (us) more than once so we have to be very careful,” Kluge said.

Kluge said that it is possible a level of “global immunity” may be in reach for a period of weeks or months due to a combination of the relatively high number of current infections, followed by ongoing vaccination uptake, and the “lowering seasonality” aspect of the upcoming spring.

“We will be able to better resist, including to new variants,” he added. “We will be ready to adapt the vaccines, especially the mRNA ones, if necessary to adapt them to more virulent variants.”

In the WHO’s European region, which encompasses 53 countries and territories, there has been a spike in Omicron cases, like elsewhere.

In the week ending January 18, the percentage of new infections from Omicron doubled from 6.3% to 15%, according to the WHO.

Omicron is currently the dominant variant in the European Union and the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein).

Due to the fast spread of the variant across Europe, the WHO official said that emphasis must be on “minimizing disruption of hospitals, schools, and the economy, and putting huge efforts on protecting the vulnerable,” instead of implementing measures to stop transmission.

“If you don't feel well, stay home, take a self test. If you're positive, isolate,” he said.

In other words, lockdowns aren’t necessary, and the old and frail should be protected. The advice is similar to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ strategy in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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