MOSCOW, February 1. /TASS/. WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said in an interview with TASS that he sees signs of the improvement of the coronavirus situation.
He noted that the period between the start of the Omicron wave and its peak is very short, from 20 to 25 days. "If you look at the Pan-European region, a number of countries have reached the peak or declining," he said. "But in the majority of the countries there is rapid expansion and in some countries <…> the wave still has to start."
"Still I’m optimistic, why? Because we see three situations coming together. Number one: there will be a lot of immunity once that wave passes, either thanks to the vaccine or due to the natural infection. Number two: the winter seasonality will decrease. And number three: we know that Omicron is more mild," Kluge said. "It means that for a period after the Omicron wave there will be much of tranquility and even if other variants return it should be possible for counties to live with the virus, without going back to lockdowns."
However, in his words, the governments will have "to do four things" for this. "Number one - strengthen the surveillance. So that every country can quickly pick up new variant. Number two - keep vaccinating and boosting vaccines work. Number three - increase the access to new antiviral drugs, which can be a game changer. Number four - if there will be a new variant, immediately give guidance to people at high risk to wear respirators, not only masks and keep the distance," he noted.
So, he stressed, more and more responsibility rests on people. "There are so many people infected that people have to take responsibility for self-testing, self-quarantining and, of course, the governments have to continue to take responsibility to make these strategies affordable," he added.