Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez indicated earlier this week that he would like the European Union to consider changes to its strategy, now that the Ómicron variant outbreak has shown the disease is becoming less deadly.
“What we are saying is that in the coming months and years, we will have to think, without hesitation and according to what science tells us, how to manage the epidemic with different parameters,” Sanchez said last Monday.
The prime minister said the changes should not happen before the Micron outbreak ends, but health officials need to start adapting the post-pandemic world now: “We are doing our part, anticipating scenarios,” he added.
Still talking about the pandemic, Sanchez believes that no country can teach lessons, but that everyone should learn from others, and stressed that he does not intend to treat Covid-19 as a flu “overnight”, but that it must be dealt with. Made to scientific standards, “No rush but no breaks”.
With one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, Spain intends to evolve towards a method of treating Covid-19 in the same way as it treats influenza or measles.
When the Covid-19 pandemic was first announced in March 2020, Spaniards were asked to stay indoors for more than three months.
For weeks they weren’t even allowed outside to exercise, kids were banned from going to playgrounds and the economy stalled.
And health officials in the country believe that these exceptional measures prevented the complete collapse of the health system and saved many lives, and reduced the transmission of the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers that it is still too early to consider any short-term change in the way to combat Covid-19 and has not yet defined the criteria for declaring the disease as endemic, but WHO experts defend that this will happen. It occurs when the virus is more predictable and there is no ongoing outbreak.
Anthony Fauci, the lead doctor in charge of infectious diseases in the USA, said that Covid-19 cannot be considered endemic until it is reduced to a “level that does not disturb society”.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has advised countries to move to more routine treatment of COVID-19 after the acute phase of the epidemic ends.
In a statement, this agency said that more EU member states, in addition to Spain, would want to adopt a “more sustainable and long-term monitoring approach”.
According to official figures as of Friday, more than 90% of the Spanish population over the age of 12 has received two doses of the vaccine, and the authorities are focusing on boosting adults’ immunity with the third dose.
Immunity acquired through vaccination, along with the spread of infection, provides the opportunity to focus prevention efforts, testing and disease screening resources on groups at medium or high risk, Salvador Trench, president of the Spanish Medical Association, told The Associated Press. Which led to the movement to demand a new response to the disease.
COVID-19 “should be treated like all other diseases,” Trench told the Associated Press, adding that regular primary care by health care workers would help reduce delays in treating problems not related to the novel coronavirus.
The public also needs to accept the idea that some deaths from Covid-19 “will be inevitable,” Tranch said, adding that “the model needs to change if different outcomes are to be achieved.”
Spain’s health ministry sees it as premature to share any plans being developed by its experts and advisors, but emphasized that one proposal is to follow the current “sentinel surveillance” model currently used in the European Union for influenza surveillance.
Many countries burdened with the unprecedented number of micron cases are already abandoning widespread testing and reducing quarantine times, especially for workers who show no more than symptoms similar to the common cold.
Since the beginning of the year, classes in Spanish schools are canceled only in the event of a major outbreak of the disease, and not only with the discovery of the first cases, as was the case before.
This whole discussion is only possible because the hospitalization pressure and deaths associated with covid-19 in vaccinated countries are relatively much lower than in previous outbreaks, with some countries, such as Spain, already considering the next steps to take.
In a New Year’s message, at the beginning of January, the President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, stressed that the epidemic “persistently persisted at the end of the year”, but emphasized that the increase in infections forced the country, “calm, but stubbornly, to test and feed and resist” and “learn to live” with the epidemic.
Using the popular expression “new year, new life,” the head of state argued that “2022 really should be a ‘new year, new life,’ in a world with less epidemic, more growth, less poverty, and more commitment to climate challenges.” .
In the UK, the use of masks in public and digital certificates will no longer be mandatory from January 26, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson declaring on Wednesday that the latest wave of the disease “has reached a national peak”.
The requirement to confine infected people to a full five days still applies, but Johnson said he would look to eliminate it in the coming weeks if the numbers continue to improve.
Official statistics show that 95% of Britons have developed antibodies to the Covid-19 virus, either due to infection or vaccination.
“As COVID becomes a pandemic, we will have to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be vigilant and considerate of others,” Johnson said.
For some other European governments, the idea of normalizing the disease runs counter to their efforts to promote vaccination among the most reluctant groups.
In Germany, where less than 73% of the population has received doses of the vaccine and infection rates are setting new records almost daily, comparisons with Spain or any other country have been dismissed.
“We still have a very large number of people who are not immunized, especially among our older citizens,” Health Ministry spokesman Andreas Defner said last Monday.
Italy is expanding the vaccination mandate to all citizens aged 50 or older and is imposing fines of up to 1,500 euros on unvaccinated people who show up to work.
Italians are also required to be fully vaccinated in order to access public transport, planes, gyms, hotels and trade fairs.
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