ECDC publishes a new risk assessment on the emergence of the Omicron variant

“Since I last addressed you, the emergence of the Omicron variant has raised serious concerns due to initial reports of clusters of cases, including among fully vaccinated people. There are indications that community transmission is already underway in EU/EEA countries and based on predictions Modeling, another rapid increase in Omicron cases is imminent.

We assess the probability of the Omicron variant spreading in the EU/EEA as very high, and it is believed to be very likely to cause more hospitalizations and deaths, in addition to those already projected from previous forecasts considering only the delta variant.

The efficacy of vaccines against severe delta-induced outcomes remains high, so vaccination remains a key component in limiting the effect of Omicron and addressing delta circulation. According to surveillance data, nearly half a million lives have been saved by vaccinations so far. Countries should intensify efforts to increase full vaccination of people who have not yet been or who have only been partially vaccinated, as well as give booster doses to all eligible as quickly as possible.

In the current situation, vaccination alone will not allow us to prevent the effect of the Omicron variant, because there will be no time to address the vaccination gaps that still exist. Strong action to reduce transmission, ease the heavy burden on health care systems, and protect the most vulnerable are essential in the months ahead. Countries have several options to respond before the holiday season in the current situation.

As we have said before, it is necessary to rapidly reintroduce and enhance non-pharmacological interventions to reduce persistent delta transmission, slow the spread of the worrisome Omicron variant and keep the burden associated with COVID-19 manageable.

Using face masks appropriately, working remotely, preventing crowding in public places, reducing congestion on public transport, staying home when sick, maintaining hand and respiratory hygiene procedures, and ensuring adequate ventilation in enclosed spaces, the use of face masks remains a priority. Appropriately. Countries may expect a strong case return if these interventions are scaled up.

For probable or confirmed cases of omicron infection, priority should be given to contact tracing, regardless of vaccination status. Testing remains an important tool, and people with symptoms should be tested regardless of their vaccination status, along with isolating infected people, to reduce the spread of the virus and reduce the burden on health care systems. Genomic monitoring remains of high importance and genome sequencing should be performed to confirm infection of a particular variant.

These actions will not only help keep us healthy, but also protect those around us. By working together, we can overcome the difficult situation caused by the pandemic. With the festive season approaching, we need solidarity more than ever.”

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo