On Monday, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that it might be time to change how it follows COVID-19's evolution to rather use a method similar to how it tracks the flu because its lethality has fallen. That would imply treating the virus as an "endemic illness," rather than a pandemic.
"We still have a huge amount of uncertainty and a virus that is evolving quite quickly, imposing new challenges. We are certainly not at the point where we are able to call it endemic," WHO's senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, told a press briefing.
She did, however, announce that COVID-19 "may become endemic in due course, but pinning that down to 2022 is a little bit difficult at this stage," according to Reuters.
The warning comes as the world is undergoing another wave of COVID-19 infections, this time driven largely by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Early data has indicated that the new strain may cause less severe infection in vaccinated people than previous variants.
On Monday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez suggested that it may be time for the world to modify how it tracks the pandemic rather than implementing strategies used for the flu, because of early reports that the virus' lethality has dropped, according to Reuters.
"We have the conditions to gradually, with precaution, open the debate at a technical level and European level, to start evaluating the evolution of this disease with different parameters than we have until now," Sanchez announced, according to the news wire.
Meanwhile, France, for example, has been reporting more than 300,000 new daily cases in recent days, and Germany reported 80,430 new infections on Wednesday, the highest recorded in a single day since the pandemic started, according to Reuters.
Sanchez's remarks echo those made in the U.K. by politicians last year, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling the British public that they would need to "learn to live with the virus."
With that in mind, the British government has had to hold its nerve in recent weeks by not introducing new restrictions on the public, despite what Johnson called a "tidal wave" of cases generated by Omicron.