The coronavirus is back on the rise in 18 European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany, Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for the continent, told reporters Tuesday.
He blamed in part a sudden change in policy in those nations, saying they lifted measures “brutally, from too much to too few.”
Many European countries reimposed tight restrictions on social gatherings after the emergence of the Omicron variant last year, only to drastically scale back early in 2022 when data showed that the strand was less severe than previous iterations.
Now, the BA.2 subvariant is spurring a new round of infections on the continent — while Kluge said he remains “optimistic, but vigilant” about the state of the pandemic on his patch.
His message also serves as a warning to the rest of the world. The BA.2 subvariant has halted the decline of infections in the United States, and is set to become the dominant source of Covid-19 cases there.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that 35% of new coronavirus cases are due to this subvariant. Restrictions are simultaneously being lifted, and not a single US state has mask mandates anymore (though face coverings are still required in some settings).
“Most people should not be worried,” added CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
“It’s likely that the US will see an increase in Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks, as this is the pattern we’ve seen before,” Wen said.
“Our government officials should prepare for what could be coming and increase the availability of tests and treatments, and continue to urge people to get vaccines and boosters. But I don’t think this is something that the general public should be overly concerned about at this time.”
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: Will I need an annual Covid-19 vaccine?
Public health experts aren’t in agreement on what the future holds for Covid-19 vaccines — but some say it’s looking more and more likely that these shots could be needed on a yearly basis, similar to how flu shots are recommended each fall.
“I do anticipate that this will be required on a periodic basis to keep it under control,” said Dr. Archana Chatterjee, dean of the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University.
The US Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet April 6 to discuss the need for Covid-19 vaccine booster doses in the future, including how often they might be required — if at all.
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Do you have a sore throat, a runny nose and muscle aches? It could be a common cold, seasonal allergies — or Covid-19.
Covid-19 cases are continuing to spread as the US moves into the time of year where allergies are on the rise. It will be important to know if you are feeling unwell because of seasonal sniffles or the coronavirus .
Both Covid and the flu often cause symptoms such as fever, fatigue, body aches, sore throat, shortness of breath and vomiting or diarrhea, according to the CDC.
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European countries now battling Covid BA.2 variant lifted restrictions too ‘brutally,’ WHO warns