President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen warned on Wednesday that by mid-January, omicron is projected to be the dominant coronavirus variety in the 27-nation union, amid fears that a huge increase in illnesses may wrap Europe in darkness over the holiday season.
However, the EU’s executive branch chief stated that the bloc is well equipped to combat omicron, claiming that 66.6 percent of Europe’s population has been completely vaccinated.
Von der Leyen expressed her optimism that the EU had the “power” and “means” to combat the disease, despite her sorrow that the epidemic will disrupt year-end celebrations once again.
“Like many of you, I’m disappointed that the epidemic will once again dominate our Christmas,” she remarked.
Further limits have been implemented across Europe as a result of the worrisome spike in new infections. Concerns have been voiced that Italy’s decision this week to demand negative tests from vaccinated tourists may restrict free movement at a time when many EU nationals travel to see relatives and loved ones.
On December 1, Portugal enacted a similar rule, mandating all planes arriving in Portugal to undergo a required negative test, even for those with health permits and regardless of their country of origin or nationality.
The EU is now facing a twin problem, according to Von der Leyen, with a large spike in cases in recent weeks owing to the delta variation paired with the development of omicron, and certain member nations are already dealing with record numbers of infections.
“We’re witnessing a spike in the number of people becoming sick, a larger strain on hospitals, and tragically, an increase in the number of fatalities,” she told European parliamentarians ahead of the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels on Thursday.
Von von Leyen claimed that the delta variation is “nearly entirely” to blame for the rise in infections.
“And what worries me is that the new variety omicron is on the horizon, which appears to be much more contagious.”
Omicron cases in the UK are doubling every two to three days, according to von der Leyen, and the new form appears to be spreading at the similar rate throughout the EU. According to a Tuesday review of data from South Africa, where the new variety is causing an outbreak, omicron appears to be easier to transfer from person to person and better at evading immunizations, although it is also milder.
Von der Leyen stated that Europe is currently in a stronger position to tackle the virus due to the high incidence of immunization in the bloc and the availability of vaccine doses. More than 300 million individuals in the EU have been properly vaccinated, with 62 million receiving a booster shot, according to her.
She claims that 300 million vaccine doses can be manufactured every month in Europe, and that adapting existing coronavirus vaccines to omicron would take roughly 100 days.
“Omicron research indicates that this triple jab provides the best protection against the new strain,” she explained.
She also stated that it is important to combat vaccine skepticism, particularly in member nations with low vaccination rates.
“Because the price we’ll pay if people don’t get vaccinated keeps rising,” she explained. “It’s also a concern for our senior elders, who will once again be unable to visit their grandkids this Christmas.” It’s also a concern for those youngsters who are unable to attend school once more. “What type of existence is that?” says the narrator.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged Wednesday, echoing von der Leyen’s remarks, that his new administration will do all possible to help Germany overcome the coronavirus outbreak and return people to their regular lives.
“We don’t have time to squander,” said Scholz, who assumed office as Germany deals with the pandemic’s largest wave of infections to far.
Scholz further stated that a “small minority” of fanatics attempting to impose their will on coronavirus policy will not be tolerated by the government.
Greece and a few other European Union nations began immunizing children aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 on Wednesday, as governments prepare for the holiday season. Italy, Spain, and Hungary were among the countries that expanded the vaccination program to include younger children, as national agencies formally backed the European Commission’s approval of Pfizer-reduced-dose BioNTech’s vaccine last month.