What About Us: Europe Nears “Pandemic Endgame” While US Approaches “Right Direction” - Trending

The Earth is healing, sort of.

Although health officials agree that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, there are places making significant progress in their respective jurisdictions.

READ ALSO: Beating COVID: 6 Countries That Are Back To Normal, Or Almost There

The West, in particular, is seeing good results.

Epicenter sees endgame

WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Henri Kluge said that the continent is entering a “new phase.”

“It’s plausible that the region is moving toward a kind of pandemic endgame,” he said in a January 23 interview with Agence France-Presse.

In a statement the following day, Kluge said that the Omicron variant appears to cause much less severe disease than Delta, which it is displacing with unprecedented speed.

“Although Omicron offers plausible hope for stabilization and normalization, our work is not done. Huge disparities in access to vaccines remain. If 2021 was the year of vaccine production, 2022 must be the year of vaccine equity in the European region and beyond,” he said.

The regional director expressed optimism about the direction of the region’s COVID-19 response.

“The pandemic is far from over, but I am hopeful we can end the emergency phase in 2022 and address other health threats that urgently require our attention,” he said.

This positive development comes almost two years since WHO announced in March 2020 that Europe has become the “epicenter” of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China. At the time, more cases were being reported in the region than in China at the height of its epidemic.

On the right track

Similarly, Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is “as confident as you can be” that most of the United States will reach their peak of Omicron cases by mid-February.

“Things are looking good. We don’t want to get overconfident, but they look like they’re going in the right direction right now,” Fauci said in a January 23 interview with ABC News’ This Week.

According to the health official, states in the northeast and midwest have already seen cases peek and then decline sharply. However, cases are still rising in the western and southern states.

Moving forward, Fauci added that the hope is that the level of infection will fall below an “area of control.”

“Control means you’re not eliminating it, you’re not eradicating it, but it gets down to such a low level, that it’s essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with,” he said.

Hold your breath

Positive developments in the world, however, are no reason to be complacent, according to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus. 

“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out, and how the acute phase could end—but it is dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant, or that we are in the endgame,” the health official said in a January 24 session.

He added that more than 80 million COVID-19 cases have been reported since the Omicron variant was first identified nine weeks ago. This is higher than the total cases reported in the entire span of 2020.

“On the contrary, globally the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge. To change the course of the pandemic, we must change the conditions that are driving it,” Ghebreysus said.

“Each country is in a unique situation, and must chart its way out of the acute phase of the pandemic with a careful, stepwise approach.”

Specifically, he recommends that countries reach vaccination targets, improve health care, and boost testing rates.

“And it means learning critical lessons and defining new solutions now, not waiting until the pandemic is over,” Ghebreysus concluded.

This Sunday will mark two years since WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern—the highest level of alarm under international law—over the spread of COVID-19.

Banner Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

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