In Spain, for example, the government headed by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants to implement such a change in strategy and classify Covid-19 as an endemic disease with seasonal outbreaks that people can live with and that does not overburden the health system. Health Minister Carolina Daria, like Sanchez of the center-left PSOE, said the move was “timely and necessary”.
In theory, the preconditions for such a change in strategy would actually be better in Spain than in other EU countries. 90.5 percent of the population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated – one of the highest rates in the world. For comparison: Austria has 72 percent of active vaccination certificates, based on the total population. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), just over 73 percent of the population in Germany has received basic immunization.
Nahamer does not believe that the epidemic will end quickly
Unlike his predecessor Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor Karl Nehamer (ÖVP) does not see the possibility of ending the coronavirus epidemic any time soon – on the contrary: “We will not reach the state in which the epidemic ended soon,” he said in an interview with the news magazine “The File” personal”. A typical transformation occurs with the omicron variant of the virus. With this new variant “it seems no limits, we have to adapt to the new dimensions,” says Nahamer.
Changing course also in Great Britain
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country plans to change course, is different. “With the outbreak of the Covid virus, we need to replace legal rules with advice and recommendations,” he said midweek, announcing that most measures would be lifted soon. “We have to learn to live with Covid,” British Health Minister Sajid Javid said earlier this year.
Ireland also lifted nearly all of its CoV rules on Saturday. In Dublin on Friday evening, Prime Minister Michael Martin said pubs, restaurants and discos are allowed to reopen without the need for proof of vaccination or observance of distance rules. Restrictions on participants in events, as well as regulations on private meetings, are no longer in effect. Everyone who has tested positive for coronavirus should continue to self-isolate. The mask requirement will also remain in place at least until the end of February. Martin said Ireland weathered the “Omicron storm”.
WHO pandemic ‘not over’
WHO is all moving very fast. Its president, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that “the epidemic is not over yet.” New virus variants can always appear. Diseases or pathogens are described as endemic if they occur permanently and frequently in a limited area or in parts of a population. However, a pandemic does not mean a disease is harmless, as explained by WHO’s Director of Emergency Relief, Michael Ryan. This is evidenced by the example of malaria, which is endemic to many regions of the world.
Fernando Garcia, a researcher at the Spanish National Center for Epidemiology (CNE), warned that the debate over COVID-19 as an endemic disease raises “false hopes”.
“We are really heading towards the virus becoming more widespread, but we can’t say we’re at that point yet,” said Marco Cavalieri of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). When this point is reached, a certain number of cases cannot be determined.
Lots in intensive care units
Epidemiologist Garcia said that if the coronavirus becomes truly endemic, “most people have mild symptoms” and a few will die of complications. In such a situation, “it will never happen that Covid patients occupy a quarter of beds in intensive care units, not even five percent.” However, more than 23 percent of intensive care beds in Spain are currently occupied by coronavirus patients.
The timing of the transmission is not clear to the World Health Organization
According to a media report, the WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, recently welcomed it when governments are already preparing for the pandemic to transition to an endemic stage. It is still unclear whether the transition to an endemic phase can occur after an omicron wave. “We don’t know when and where the next shape will appear and how it will interact with Omicron and Delta,” the German newspaper quoted “Handelsblatt” Swaminathan as saying.
In addition, no country can enter the epidemic endemic phase while the rest of the world is still in the midst of this epidemic. The first goal should be to achieve a global vaccination rate of 70 percent by the middle of this year. Many countries are still far from it. In many African countries, for example, the rate is less than ten percent, and is estimated to be just over 50 percent worldwide.
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