WHO: Too soon to be treating COVID like flu
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is on track to infect more than half of Europeans, but it should not yet be seen as a flu-like endemic illness, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.
Fifty out of 53 countries in Europe and central Asia have logged cases of the more infectious variant.
Evidence, however, is emerging that Omicron is affecting the upper respiratory tract more than the lungs, causing milder symptoms than previous variants. But the WHO has cautioned more studies are still needed to prove this.
On Monday, Spain’s Prime Minister changed the way health officials track COVID-19’s evolution to instead use a method similar to flu because its lethality has fallen.
That would imply treating the virus as an endemic illness, rather than a pandemic, without recording every case and without testing all people presenting symptoms. But that is a way off, WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, said at the briefing, adding that endemicity requires a stable and predictable transmission.