“Omicron transmission category in EU and EEA has changed from community to dominant,” The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in its weekly update on communicable disease threats. In addition to the EU Member States, the EEA also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The ECDC further clarified that the omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa, is now “prevails in most EU and EEA countries”, with an aggregate share of 78 percent.
The coronavirus is currently spreading rapidly across Europe, with cases rising in the region by nine percent in the last week, according to the AFP database. The World Health Organization (WHO) said last week that the omicron variant could infect half of all people in the region by March.
The EU has announced that member states should prepare for the fourth dose
EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EU health ministers on Friday to prepare for the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as data confirms her need. Reuters reported. “If we have convincing data that a fourth dose is needed, we will be ready to act.” Kyriakides said.
Its talks with ministers were organized at the last minute by the French government, which currently holds a six-month rotating presidency of the EU Council, writes Reuters. In addition to a possible fourth dose, ministers also addressed vaccines adapted to the new coronavirus variants. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced last week that the administration of a fourth dose would be appropriate for people with a severely weakened immune system. However, more evidence is needed. EU Commissioner Kyriakides reminded on Twitter that millions of Europeans have not yet been vaccinated with a single dose.
“We have to focus our energy on this,” she wrote. According to her, the level of collective immunity needs to be increased with a third dose. EU member states Hungary, Denmark and Sweden have already started administering the fourth dose of vaccines, Reuters recalls. Swedish health authorities said on Friday that people with a weakened immune system could receive it three to four months after receiving the third dose. Denmark plans to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups. The Hungarian government has decided to support the administration of a fourth dose of vaccine, which can be taken by anyone after consultation with a doctor. Israel became the first country in the world to administer the fourth dose – as early as December 2021.