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COVID-19 to hit Europe in the coming week; Warns watchdog

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has issued a warning that a fresh wave of COVID-19 infection is anticipated to hit Europe ‘within a week’. The agency also noted that because adaptive vaccines are still in the early stages of development, the virus’s new variants are evolving more quickly than they can be produced.

The EU medicines watchdog claimed at a press briefing in The Netherlands on Wednesday that the epidemic was still ongoing since new variants were continually being discovered. According to the AFP news agency, Dr. Marco Cavaleri, Head of Health Threats and Vaccines Strategy, claimed that last week, ‘at least five nations in the European Union and European Economic Area have been recognised as having one of these novel Omicron strains known as BQ.1’.

By mid-November to the start of December, BQ.1 and each sub-lineage, known as BQ.1.1, will overtake all other strains, predicts the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control). In order to protect people in high-risk groups, European health officials have advised vaccination against both the influenza virus and Covid this winter. However, the EMA ended on a positive note by emphasising that the current vaccines are still efficacious.

The alert comes in response to an increase in Omicron BQ.1 and closely similar BQ.1.1 cases in both Europe and the US. The BQ.1.1 subvariant is reportedly present in at least 29 nations, according to the World Health Organization this week. BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 were projected to make up 9.4% of the circulating variations last week, the US CDC reported on Friday.

Citing laboratory research from Asia, the officials have cautioned that the new variation may be able to get by some immune defences, but they have also emphasised that there is currently no proof that BQ.1 is associated with increased severity. Gregory Poland, a virologist and vaccine researcher at Mayo Clinic, told Reuters news agency that the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 versions ‘may quite potentially lead to a very bad wave of sickness this winter in the U.S. as it’s already starting to do in Europe and the UK’.


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