Fall in Omicron cases: Early signs of Covid heading towards ‘endgame’, say experts

WION Web Team
Copenhagen Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 02:47 PM(IST)

Africa, Europe and some parts of the US have been witnessing falling Covid cases over the past week. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Experts from WHO's regional offices in Europe and Africa and US’ top scientist Anthony Fauci expressed optimism over falling Covid cases, but cautioned against 'overconfidence'

The COVID-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic, several top experts have opined, adding that a rapid fall in Omicron cases indicated that the deadly virus is in the ‘endgame’.

 WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told news agency AFP in an interview on Sunday that the region is witnessing the final phase of the Omicron variant.

“It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Kluge said, adding that Omicron could infect 60 per cent of Europeans by March.

He said that once the Omicron subsides across Europe, “there will be for quite some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection, and also lowering seasonality.”

“We anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before COVID-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back,” Kluge said.

US’ top scientist Anthony Fauci also expressed similar optimism.

Also read | COVID-19: Is Omicron 'sub-variant' BA.2 a threat in India? More than 400 cases found in England

He told ABC News that with Covid-19 cases coming down “rather sharply” in parts of the United States, “things are looking good”.

While cautioning against overconfidence, he said that if the recent fall in case numbers in areas like the US's northeast continues, “I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country”.

Watch | Is Europe eyeing an end to COVID-19 pandemic?

The WHO regional office for Africa also said last week that cases of Covid had plummeted in that region and deaths were declining for the first time since the Omicron-dominated fourth wave of the virus reached its peak.

Also read | Has third wave of coronavirus peaked in India? Find several answers

The Omicron variant, which studies have shown is more contagious than Delta but generally leads to less severe infection among vaccinated people, has raised long-awaited hopes that Covid-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu. 

But WHO’s Europe director Kluge cautioned that it was still too early to consider COVID-19 endemic and said that other variants might still emerge.

“There is a lot of talk about endemic but endemic means...that it is possible to predict what's going to happen. This virus has surprised (us) more than once so we have to be very careful,” he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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