BRUSSELS, Dec 2 (Reuters) – The European Union public health agency said on Thursday that the omicron variant could be responsible for more than half of COVID-19 infections in Europe within a few months, but still no case of serious illness has been identified in the region.
The estimate could give weight to the preliminary information on the very high transmissibility of the omicron variant, more than that of the delta variant, which before omicron was considered the most contagious among the main coronavirus strains.
“Based on mathematical modeling carried out by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), there are indications that omicron could cause more than half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the EU / European Economic Area (EEA) in the coming months, “the Center said in a statement.
So far there is no conclusive evidence on the transmissibility of omicron, but the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) for COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove, said on Wednesday that the body expected to have data in a few days.
Earlier Thursday, the French government’s top scientific adviser, Jean-Francois Delfraissy, said omicron could take the place of delta by the end of January.
Europe has so far found 79 cases of the omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa last month, according to the ECDC.
Half of these cases were asymptomatic and the other half had only mild symptoms. There have been no cases of serious illness, hospitalization or death.
Of the cases for which data on age and vaccination status are available, most were young and fully vaccinated, he said.
ECDC did not provide further details, but noted that as these were people who were traveling, it could be assumed that they were healthier than the general population.