Omicron variant, von der Leyen: “Dominant in the EU within a month”

“This Christmas too will be overshadowed by the pandemic”

Omicron variant of the dominant covid within one month in the EU. The “growing” numbers of coronavirus positive cases, sick people, hospitalizations and deaths in Europe are due “almost exclusively” to the Delta variant, while Omicron is “on the horizon”, which is “even more contagious”, causing a number of cases that “doubles every two or three days”. By “mid-January” the variant identified for the first time in South Africa will be “dominant” in the Old Continent. The president of the European Commission says so Ursula von der Leyen, during the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The Commission, says Von der Leyen, is following the situation “with a mixture of concern and trust. I am sad, like many of you, that Christmas will once again be overshadowed by the pandemic. But on the other hand, I am confident, because we have the strength and the means to overcome the pandemic in the long term. Now we face a double challenge: Covid-19 cases have massively increased in Europe. There are some Member States that have the highest infection rates ever. ”

We see an increasing number of people getting sick – he adds – a burden that worsens on hospitals and unfortunately an increase in the number of deaths. It is important to be aware that this large increase in the number of infections is almost exclusively due to the Delta variant. What worries me is that we now see a new variant, Omicron, on the horizon, which is apparently even more contagious. Cases appear to double every two to three days. They tell us – he explains – that by mid-January we should expect Omicron to be the dominant variant in Europe “.

In Europe so far “one billion doses” of Covid vaccines “have been injected. 66.6% of the European population has now received two doses of the vaccine, over 300 million people. And 62 million people have received the third. dose. Science tells us that initial data on Omicron indicate that triple vaccination is the best protection against the new variant“, emphasizes the president of the European Commission.

There priority now in Europe is “to increase the number of people vaccinated, in all age groups, including children”. Today, he says, “our position is better, because we are able to produce 300 million doses of Covid vaccines here in Europe. We have contracts that ensure that we will receive vaccines once they are adopted to the new variants: they tell us that 100 will be needed. days to adapt the vaccines we have. We also work with the EMA to ensure that the approval process goes hand in hand with the adaptation of the vaccines, so that we have them as soon as possible. We have the vaccines and this puts us in good stead position”.

“The most important thing now – continues Von der Leyen – is to increase the number of people vaccinated in Europe as quickly as possible, in all age groups, including children. We need to reach people, make appointments for vaccination and, in in particular, we need to help member countries that are lagging behind with vaccinations. In some member states, the Commission has started conducting targeted social media campaigns to ensure that people have the information they need on vaccine effectiveness. Overcoming vaccine skepticism, because the price we pay for unvaccinated people continues to rise. People pay, our economies, our businesses and our societies pay. The elderly pay, who again this year will not be able to see their grandchildren at Christmas. It is also a problem for children who once again cannot go to school: what kind of life is this? We all owe it to these people, we must get vaccinated to fight the pandemic “, he concludes.