In a statement, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said, there is a “very high” that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 will become dominant in Europe by early 2022 and lead to a growing number of hospital admissions and deaths.
The statement by European Union’s public health body the chances of Omicron overtaking the Delta variant within the first two months of 2022 are very high.
As yet, there is no data to assess the severity of the disease caused by the Omicron variant. However, even if the severity of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant was lower than that caused by Delta, the increased transmissibility outweighs any potential benefits.
“It is therefore considered very likely that the Omicron VOC will cause additional hospitalisations and fatalities, in addition to those already expected in previous forecasts that only take into account the Delta VOC,” said ECDC.
Without undertaking further measures to reduce social contact or increased booster vaccinations, the levels of transmission could overwhelm healthcare systems.
According to European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, EU countries should immediately plan for increased health care capacity.
“As Europeans we prepare for the end of the year festivities, we cannot throw caution to the wind,” said Kyriakides in a statement.
The ECDC went on to add, booster doses would increase protection, according to current evidence, with a higher impact if doses were given to the adult population within a short interval.
Kyriakides said, “the coming months would be difficult, with Omicron likely to come in a big wave, but with boosters as a wave-breaker.
While around 66% of Europeans have received their first doze of COVID-19 vaccine, it was “very worrying” that some countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia were lagging, with uptake below 50%.said Kyriakides.