‘Moving towards endgame’: Will Omicron end COVID-19?

The scientific community is divided over the future of the Coronavirus.

By Zevi Pilzer, World Israel News

Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe, made an optimistic prediction regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it is likely that after the Omicron variant wave it will meet its end on the continent.

“It is plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Kluge told AFP.

Studies have shown that the Omicron strain of the coronavirus generally leads to less severe infection among vaccinated people than the Delta strain that came before it.

Its more lenient effect has raised worldwide hopes that COVID-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness, much like the seasonal flu.

Once the current surge of cases in Europe begins to subside, according to Kluge, “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.”

However, there appear to be contradicting predictions regarding the pandemic’s future within WHO itself.

Maria Van Kerkhove, an expert epidemiologist in the organization, warns that further variants will follow Omicron.

“It will not be the last variant that will cause concern around the world. The global population will still be vulnerable to the virus,” she said.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO official, joined Van Kerkhove, warning that “high levels of transmission give the virus more opportunity to replicate and mutate, raising the risk that a new variant will emerge.”

“We don’t fully understand the consequences of letting this thing run. Most of what we’ve seen so far in areas of uncontrolled transmission has been we paid a price for the variants that emerge and new uncertainties we have to manage as we go forward,” Aylward said.