Omicron: Vaccination alone ‘will not be enough’, warns the European Disease Control Agency

On Wednesday, the European Agency responsible for epidemiology warned of “strong” “urgent” action in the face of the rapid development of the omicron variant because “vaccination alone will not be enough”.

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“In the current situation, vaccination alone will not allow us to prevent the effect of the Omicron variant, as there is no time to fill existing vaccination gaps,” said the Director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Andrea Ammon in a title video.

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The European Union’s health agency also raised its assessment of the risk of the new variant to public health by a degree, to “very high”, and recommended a series of measures including a return to remote work and increased caution during the end of the year. Celebrations and trips.

According to her, it is “highly likely” that the new variant will cause hospitalizations and deaths in addition to those already predicted by previous predictions focusing on the dominant delta variant to date.

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To keep the burden on the health system “manageable”, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention has again called for a “rapid reintroduction and strengthening” of so-called “non-pharmaceutical” measures against COVID, a term that covers restrictions broadly.

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“There is an urgent need to take strong action to reduce transmission, ease the heavy burden on health systems and protect the most vulnerable in the coming months,” the agency, which covers 27 countries in the European Union and Norway, adds. and Iceland.

For the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, this report notes that “the coming months will be difficult.”

“It is likely that Omicron will arrive with a major wave that will put more pressure on healthcare systems,” she said in a statement to AFP.

While 66% of the EU population is already fully vaccinated, she explains, “we can do much better. The third dose should be our breakwater.”

“We need the utmost respect for public health measures, along with a rapid increase in booster vaccination to deal with Omicron,” Kyriakidis appealed, adding that it was “very concerning” that some countries were lagging behind in starting vaccination implementation.

The Omicron variant is spreading “at a rate we’ve never seen with any other variant,” the World Health Organization (WHO) already warned Tuesday, calling for all anti-COVID tools to be used to prevent health systems from quickly overwhelmed as the holiday season approaches.

For ECDC, using masks, working remotely, avoiding crowded places and public transportation, staying home when you are sick, and ventilating and maintaining a high level of hygiene “remains a priority.”

For probable or confirmed cases of Omicron, tracing should also be a priority, and testing remains an “important tool” even when people are vaccinated, as is the isolation of COVID-19 positive cases.

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