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3 Feb, 2022 14:53

Pandemic ‘ceasefire’ for Europe predicted by WHO

The region can hope for a “long period of tranquility,” Dr. Hans Kluge says
Pandemic ‘ceasefire’ for Europe predicted by WHO

During a virtual press briefing conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday, Dr. Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe, announced that the continent could be entering a “long period of tranquility” and security in the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Talking to the reporters, he said Europe had the “unique opportunity to take control of transmission” due to three factors: high vaccination and natural immunity rates among European citizens, favorable seasonal conditions as winter approaches its end, and the lower severity of the Omicron variant. 

"This period of higher protection should be seen as a 'ceasefire' that could bring us enduring peace," he said in the video.

Despite the fact that Covid-19 cases have reached their highest since the start of the pandemic due to the more contagious nature of the Omicron variant, Covid death rates and intensive care admissions are starting to stabilize, according to Dr. Kluge.

He urged the European authorities to continue their vaccination policies, focus on protecting the most vulnerable groups, promote self-defensive behavior, and increase surveillance to detect new variants of Covid-19.

“I believe that it is possible to respond to new variants that will inevitably emerge without reinstalling the kind of disruptive measures we needed before,” he noted. 

The regional director also addressed the necessity of increasing “vaccine sharing across borders” in order to fight the pandemic worldwide. 

The WHO virtual press conference was conducted amid multiple European nations deciding to end or significantly soften their Covid-19 restrictions. Denmark, Ireland, Norway, France, and Sweden have already decided to relax restrictive measures in the coming weeks, with Finland, Italy and Switzerland expecting to conduct government discussions on the matter in the coming days.

According to WHO statistics, Europe has seen more than 11,800,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 22,000 deaths in the last seven days.