Omicron not last COVID variant, dangerous to assume pandemic is nearing end: WHO

Health workers carry the dead body of COVID victim. [FPK Photo/Qayoom Khan]

New Delhi: As COVID cases continue to rise across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) cautioned people against any complacency, asserting that it is dangerous to assume that we are in the endgame.

Maria van Kerkhove, the global health body’s technical lead on COVID, also claimed that Omicron will not be the last variant of the coronavirus and there could be more in the days to come.

“This virus is still evolving and changing and we need to change and adjust accordingly. We not only have to increase the vaccination coverage around the world but also try and transition out. It will not end with the latest wave and Omicron will not be the last variant we speak about, unfortunately,” BBC quoted Kerkhove as saying.

This comes hours after WHO’s Europe director Hans Kluge claimed that pandemic could come to an ‘end’ in Europe after the current Omicron variant that has created havoc across the world.

“It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame. 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 lower seasonality,” news agency AFP quoted Kluge as saying.

As per the WHO, the Omicron variant has been identified in 171 countries. The variant has rapidly outpaced Delta in most countries, driving an upsurge of cases in all regions. “Omicron has a substantial growth advantage over Delta, and it is rapidly replacing Delta globally,” the global health agency said.

Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, has said he is confident that most states in the country will reach a peak of Omicron infection cases by mid-February.

“You never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus,” Fauci added on Sunday in an interview with ABC News.

In India, 2,55,874 coronavirus cases, 16.39% lower than yesterday’s 3.06 lakh figure, were reported on Tuesday, the Health Ministry of India said.

The new COVID cases reported today took the total infection tally in India – the second worst-hit country after the US – to almost 3.98 crores.

The active cases in India now comprise 5.62 per cent of the total infections, while the COVID recovery rate marginally increased to 93.15 per cent. The active cases presently stand at 22,36,842.


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