January 24, 2022

Covid-19: the spread of the Omicron variant will end the pandemic phase, estimates the EMA

TRENDS – The European Medicines Agency estimated on Tuesday that Omicron will turn Covid-19 into an endemic disease with which humanity can learn to live.

“No one knows exactly when we’ll be at the end of the tunnel, but we’ll get there.” Although the disease is still in the pandemic phase, the spread of the Omicron variant will turn Covid-19 into an endemic disease, explained Tuesday Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), based in Amsterdam.

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“With the increase in immunity in the population – and with Omicron there will be a lot of natural immunity in addition to vaccination – we will move quickly towards a scenario that will be closer to endemicity.”, he added during a press conference. But, he stressed, “we must not forget that we are still in a pandemic”.

“Lassitude of the population with the booster doses”

The European branch of the World Health Organization also noted that it was currently impossible to qualify the virus as endemic, such as influenza. “We still have a virus that evolves quite quickly and poses new challenges. So we are certainly not at the point where we can call it endemic.”, affirmed the person in charge of emergency situations at WHO Europe, Catherine Smallwood. More than half of Europeans could be affected by the Omicron variant within two months given the “tsunami” current, according to WHO Europe.

The latter also warned that fighting the Covid-19 pandemic with booster doses of current vaccines was not a viable strategy, an opinion shared by the EMA.

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“If we have a strategy where we give boosters every four months, we’ll end up potentially having immune response issues.”, said Marco Cavaleri. “And secondly, there is of course the risk of population fatigue with the continuous administration of booster doses”, he added.

Instead, countries should start thinking about spacing out boosters at longer intervals and giving them in early winter, like the flu shot, he said.

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