Berlin, Dec 15 (EFE).- The impact of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of coronavirus cannot be prevented by vaccination alone, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said Wednesday.
The European Union health agency said reintroducing and strengthening measures such as the use of face-masks, remote working and avoiding crowds on public transport were necessary to protect vulnerable sectors of the population.
It added that the Omicron variant was likely to accelerate Covid-19 death rates and hospitalizations.
“In the current situation, vaccination alone will not allow us to prevent the impact of the Omicron variant, because there will be no time to address the vaccination gaps that still exist.
“It is urgent that strong action is taken to reduce transmission and alleviate the heavy burden on health care systems and protect the most vulnerable in the coming months,” the ECDC said.
Countries that lift such measures could expect a rapid increase in Omicron cases, the agency warned.
“We assess the probability of further spread of the Omicron variant in the EU/EEA as very high, and it is considered very likely to cause additional hospitalisations and fatalities, further to those already expected from previous forecasts that consider only the Delta variant,” the ECDC added.
The health agency said Covid-19 vaccines had saved half a million lives so far in the pandemic.EFE