Omicron variant spread pushing COVID towards being an endemic, says EU's drug watchdog
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also raised reservations about administering a fourth vaccination dose to the general public, claiming that repeated boosters are not a "sustainable" strategy.
The spread of the Omicron variant is causing Covid to become an endemic illness that humans can live with, albeit it remains a pandemic for the time being, according to the EU's drug authority on Tuesday. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also raised reservations about administering a fourth vaccination dose to the general public, claiming that repeated boosters are not a "sustainable" strategy. "No one knows when we will reach the light at the end of the tunnel," Marco Cavaleri, head of the vaccination strategy at the Amsterdam-based authority, told media.
He believes that as population immunity grows – and with Omicron, there will be a lot of natural immunity occurring on top of vaccination – we will be swiftly moving towards a condition more akin to endemicity. However, he emphasised that "we should not forget we are still in a pandemic," citing the massive load on healthcare caused by the spike in Omicron.
The World Health Organization warned earlier Tuesday that more than half of Europeans were likely to contract the strain within two months. The WHO also stated that repeated Covid boosters were not a realistic technique, reiterated by the EU's drugs authority. Cavaleri stated that if we have a strategy of delivering boosters every four months, we may have issues with the immunological response. There is also the possibility of tiredness in the population with constant administration of boosters.
Instead, countries should consider spacing out boosters at longer intervals and synchronising them with the start of the cold season, as flu vaccines are currently administered. Separately, the EMA stated that tests had proven that, although being more contagious, the risk of hospitalisation from the Omicron variety was one-third to one-half that of the Delta strain.