EU health watchdog urges Europe to prepare for new Covid wave

by IANS |

The Hague, Sep 21 (IANS) The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that despite a fall in the number of Covid-19 cases across the continent, the pandemic is not over yet and countries should prepare for a new wave.

"Data have showed that over the last weeks there has been a decrease in the overall number of cases and deaths caused by Covid-19 in Europe," Marco Cavaleri, head of Health Threats and Vaccines Strategy of the EMA, told reporters here on Tuesday.

"However, as autumn approaches, we need to prepare for a new wave of infections," he said.

Cavaleri said that the same scenario occurred over the past two years, with a new wave coming up in autumn and that this trend is likely to return this year.

The top health official also emphasized the importance of looking out for new variants of the coronavirus.

"The Omicron BA.5 variant is still the dominant variant circulating in Europe. We still have to be alert on other variants. For instance, the BA.4.6 is quickly spreading in the US and has already been detected in Europe. Also, the BA.2.75 variant is of concern."

"What is clear to me and what should be very clear from Cavaleri's presentation is that we in Europe still consider the pandemic as ongoing," EMA Chief Medical Officer Steffen Thirstrup added.

The EMA's human medicines committee (CHMP) has recommended the authorization of adapted vaccines targeting the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 in addition to the original strain of Covid-19.

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