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WHO regional director: Europe entering a ‘plausible endgame’ for the pandemic

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional director for Europe said on Thursday (February 3) that Europe’s COVID-19 situation was entering a “plausible endgame.”

Dr. Hans Kluge made the comments during a WHO conference on the status of COVID-19 throughout the region.

He added that while the pandemic is not over, the European region finds itself in a unique situation driven by a “large capital of immunity,” built up by a combination of vaccine drives, a favourable seasonality pause, and a lower severity of the Omicron variant.

Kluge stressed that there is no contradiction with the warning made by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on January 24 that it’s dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant or that the pandemic was in its final stages.

Kluge added that global vaccine solidarity is needed to further lessen the threat of COVID-19.

Some 12 million new cases were reported in the past week, marking the highest weekly case incidence since the start of the pandemic, largely driven by the spread of Omicron.

However, the case incidence rate and overall admissions to intensive care have not increased significantly and the number of deaths across the region is starting to plateau, Kluge said.

In the run up to World Cancer Day on Friday (February 4), Kluge gave an update on the disruption caused by the pandemic on cancer care, screening, and treatment.

The situation has improved since the first quarter of last year, “but the knock-on effect of this disruption will be felt for years,” Kluge said.

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