Published On: Wed, Jan 12th, 2022

More than half of Europe likely to catch Omicron COVID infection within 2 months, WHO says


Copenhagen — More than half of the people in Europe are on track to contract the Omicron coronavirus variant in the next two months if infections continue at current rates, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. Speaking at a press conference, regional director Hans Kluge warned that the Omicron variant represented a “new west-to-east tidal wave sweeping across” the European region.

“At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasts that more than 50% of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks,” Kluge told reporters.

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People wait outside a pharmacy for COVID-19 antigen testing on January 10, 2022 in Marseille, France.

NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty


The WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries and territories including several in Central Asia, and Kluge noted that 50 of them had confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

According to the WHO, 26 of those countries reported that over 1% of their populations were “catching COVID-19 each week,” as of January 10, and that the region had seen over seven million new virus cases reported in the first week of 2022 alone.

Referencing data collected over the last few weeks, Kluge said the variant was confirmed to be more transmissible and “the mutations it has enable it to adhere to human cells more easily, and it can infect even those who have been previously infected or vaccinated.”


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However, Kluge also stressed that “approved vaccines do continue to provide good protection against severe disease and death, including for Omicron.”



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