The W.H.O. warned of “a new west-to-east tidal wave sweeping across the region,” in which more than half of those in Europe could be infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the next six to eight weeks. In the first week of 2022, the continent recorded over seven million cases, said Dr. Hans Kluge, the W.H.O. regional director for Europe.
The agency cautioned against treating the latest wave like the seasonal flu, since much remains unknown about the new variant — particularly regarding the severity of the disease it can cause in areas with lower vaccination rates, such as some Eastern European countries.
The steep rise cited by Dr. Kluge, based on forecasts by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, is a stark paradigm shift. Although the institute’s models have frequently been criticized by experts, it is clear that the virus is spreading quickly. Even if many people avoid severe illness, the virus promises to cause societal disruption across the continent.
New York Times