The omicron variant could bring in the worse surge in COVID-19 cases never seen before, warns Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. He urged people to get booster shots and to take adequate precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Just when it seemed like life would return to normal, we could be entering the worst part of the pandemic. Omicron will hit home for all of us. Close friends of mine now have it, and I have canceled most of my holiday plans,” Gates tweeted. “Even if it’s only half as severe as delta, it will be the worst surge we have seen so far because it’s so infectious.”
The Microsoft co-founder said there will be an increase in breakthrough cases in people who have already been vaccinated. “Which sounds concerning but is purely a factor of how many people are vaccinated and how fast this variant is spreading. Vaccines are designed to prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying, and are doing that well.”
Gates believes that while the omicron wave will quickly become dominant, it won’t last long. “Once it becomes dominant in a country, the wave there should last less than three months. Those few months could be bad, but still I believe if we take the right steps, the pandemic can be over in 2022.”
The billionaire acknowledged the frustration with COVID-19 heading into yet another holiday season. “But it won’t be like this forever,” he wrote. “Someday the pandemic will end, and the better we look after each other, the sooner that time will come.”
Meanwhile, WHO’s European head has warned countries to brace for a significant surge in COVID-19 cases as omicron spreads. Omicron has now been detected in at least 38 of the 58 countries in the WHO’s European region, and is already dominant in the UK, Denmark and Portugal.
According to WHO data, the European region in recent weeks has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases compared to population size anywhere in the world. Officials had warned of a further 700,000 deaths even before omicron. It should be noted that 89% of the early omicron cases in Europe were associated with common COVID-19 symptoms such as sore throat, cough and fever. It has been mostly reported in adults in their 20s and 30s.
WHO says omicron is spreading faster than the delta variant, causing infections in people who have already been vaccinated or recovered from coronavirus.