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Can you learn to live with the coronavirus after Omicron? – POLITICO

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Omicron variants are causing a wave of coronavirus infections unprecedented in Europe. This means that it is so contagious that it is difficult for most people to avoid exposure to the disease.

Even if Omicron is less deadly than previous versions of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, hospitals and other important services will be a heavy burden in the coming weeks as staff need to be infected and quarantined. Face to face.

But what happens after that? Some scientists say that the current surge is to the “exit wave” from the pandemic two years ago and to a new, low-risk, endemic stage where society must learn to live with the virus. It is said that it is foretelling the transition. Others call this wishful thinking and warn that when more people are infected than ever before, the risk is new and will only grow with the emergence of more dangerous strains.

How big is the Omicron wave?

The waves of Omicron were compared to the tsunami by political leaders: France reached dazzling 270,000 new cases on Tuesday, Greece, Italy, When Spain Infection records are also set. Eastern European countries are now beginning For Omicron.

However, health experts agree that unlike this time last year, there is no risk of an intensive care unit runaway. Omicron can circumvent previous immunity, the study Point out that vaccines and previous infections still protect against the worst consequences.

In the UK, the first country in Europe to encounter Omicron, a new infectious disease 200,000 Hospitalization is increasing on Tuesday.However, the number of patients wearing ventilators remains. Flat Despite the surge in infectious diseases. This is a positive sign for the rest of Europe.

How bad is that?

Omicron can fend off immunity from a standard course of vaccination or previous infection with COVID-19. But importantly, booster shots appear to be effective, and Omicron itself is less dangerous than previous variants. The study is Upper respiratory tract, Avoids the more sensitive lungs previously associated with the fatal complications of COVID-19.

Despite the low toxicity of the variants and widespread immunity to the vaccine, the healthcare system is still under pressure. Fidelia Cascini, an assistant professor of public health at Università Cattolica Sacro Cuore in Rome, states that in Italy, patients fill their normal beds even if they do not arrive in the ICU. This means taking advantage of resources available to other patients in the healthcare system who are already suffering from backlogs and staff shortages.

In a broader sense, the large number of absenteeism that staff must quarantine after a positive test can threaten critical services and critical infrastructure and undermine the fragile economic recovery of the continent from the recent blockade.

Sarah Scoby, deputy research director at Nuffield Trust, a health-focused think tank, said 25,000 UK healthcare workers were ill in the last week when data were available. In the UK, some hospital trusts are “Serious incident“Due to a shortage of staff, Scoby warned that the full effects of Omicron have not yet been seen, as Omicron has just begun to spread among older people who are more likely to be severely ill by the coronavirus.

When will it end?

Flemming Konradsen, a professor of global environmental hygiene at the University of Copenhagen, expects Europe to be in a very different location by the end of February. In Denmark, the first country on the continent to record major Omicron waves, the rapid spread of this subspecies means that it runs through the population rapidly.

“After burnout, Denmark will have a population of nearly 90% infected or immunized, and of course it will make the disease completely different,” Conradsen said. People still get sick, but the risk of serious illness is concentrated in environments such as nursing homes and hospitals.

This scenario could be deployed throughout Europe as the immunity gained from booster shot deployment and infection with Omicron improves the defense of the population. Eastern Europe, where vaccination levels are delayed, can be vulnerable. “Many healthcare systems across Europe are expected to be under great pressure from January to mid-February,” said Konradsen.

Is South Africa the future?

South Africa was one of the first countries to detect Omicron variants in late November. Since then, public health experts have analyzed Omicron waves to understand how variants spread around the world.

With its young demographic profile, African countries are not completely comparable to any other in Europe.Still, the case is already Reached the peak Without a significant increase in deaths. And, in contrast to the previous wave, South Africa refrained from imposing further restrictions, even if Omicron surged. So far, that approach has been successful.

Shabir Madhi, a professor of vaccines at the University of the Witwatersland, said: Chair of the National Advisory Group on Immunity in South Africa. “This worked very well and the damage in South Africa was minimal compared to what happened in the past.”

From now on, Maddy said he needs to focus on preventing serious illness and death. “I’m constantly checking the number of people infected, so I really miss the fact that the virus doesn’t go away,” he said.

Can you learn to live with the virus?

Scientists are beginning to talk about the possibility of an endemic pandemic, where the virus has become “endemic” and circulates freely, but with less threat to society.

This is the view of epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical leader on COVID-19. Speaking in December, she predicted Long transition Before the pandemic is over. “Endemic doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous,” Wankelhoff added.

However, there is no consensus on how a pandemic will evolve or how it will be to live with the endemic virus.

Martin McKee, a professor of public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said, for example, masks were already a common feature in Europe because they were already present in Asia throughout the flu season. It says it is likely.

He,”Vaccine moreA strategy focused on both jabs and public health measures, including stricter restrictions as needed. McKee said the focus should continue to be on virus control, but it could still pose a risk to the most vulnerable people.

Is it possible that more deadly variants will emerge?

However, McKee warned that there is no scientific consensus as to whether the coronavirus is less deadly: it continues to evolve and can become even more dangerous again. A group of Swedish-based scientists said, “Circulating a mass infection is like opening a Pandora’s box. You should expect more unpleasant surprises. Most of the last variants are I couldn’t see it. ” Opinion piece For Politico.

David Hayman, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, agreed that there is always the potential for dangerous mutations. However, he added that the high levels of herd immunity achieved in the United Kingdom should lead to a different approach. Rather than top-down decisions like blockades, people need to carry out their own risk assessments. For example, test yourself before going out for dinner, or avoid vulnerable people if you are at risk of infection.

“It’s just a matter of making this illness like any other illness, and we evaluate it ourselves,” he said. “Let’s continue what we have to do to prevent this from spreading rapidly and to protect others.”

This article is part of PoliticoPremium Policy Services: Professional Healthcare. From drug prices, EMAs, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, etc., our professional journalists are always aware of the topics that drive the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] Free trial.

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