Europe is considering a new COVID-19 strategy: accepting the virus

Madrid (AP) — When the coronavirus pandemic was first declared, the Spaniards were ordered to stay home for more than three months.For weeks they exercise.. Children were banned from the playground and the economy virtually stopped.

However Authorities have approved strict measures to prevent the complete collapse of the health system.. They claimed that their lives were saved.

Now, almost two years later, Spain Preparing to adopt another COVID-19 playbook.. In one of Europe’s highest immunization rates and a pandemic-stricken economy, the government is laying the groundwork for treating the next outbreak as a disease that remains here, not as an emergency. Similar procedures are being considered in neighboring Portugal and the United Kingdom.

The idea is to move from crisis mode to control mode and approach the virus in much the same way that a country deals with influenza and measles. This means accepting the outbreak and providing special care to people at risk and patients with complications.

Spain’s centre-left Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants the European Union to consider similar changes now that the proliferation of Omicron variants has shown that the lethality of the disease is diminishing. ..

“What we are saying is that in the coming months and years, we have to think about how to manage the pandemic with different parameters, without hesitation, and according to what science teaches us. That’s not going to happen, “he said on Monday.

Sanchez said changes shouldn’t happen before the Omicron surge is over, but authorities now need to begin shaping the post-pandemic world.

The World Health Organization states that it is premature to consider an immediate shift. Organizations do not have well-defined criteria for declaring COVID-19 endemic, but experts say that it happens when the virus is more predictable and there is no persistent outbreak. I said before.

“It’s not just the number of cases, it’s a subjective decision. It’s about seriousness, it’s about the impact,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s Head of Emergency.

At the World Economic Forum panel on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top doctor of infectious diseases in the United States, said COVID-19 would not be considered endemic until it fell to “a level that would not disrupt society.”

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control advises countries to move to more routine treatment of COVID-19 after the acute phase of the pandemic is over. Authorities said in a statement that in addition to Spain, more EU member states would want to adopt a “longer-term and sustainable surveillance approach.”

Over 80% of Spain’s population has been vaccinated twice, and authorities are focusing on boosting adult immunity with the third vaccination.

Vaccine adaptive immunity, coupled with widespread infections, provides an opportunity to focus preventive efforts, testing, and disease tracking resources on medium-risk to high-risk groups, Salvador, Head of the Spanish Family and Community Health Association.・ Dr. Trench said. He led a call for a new unique response.

COVID-19 “must be treated like any other illness,” Trenche told The Associated Press, adding “normal attention” by medical professionals. Helps reduce delays in treatment of problems not related to the coronavirus.

The public also needs to agree with the idea that some deaths from COVID-19 will be unavoidable, “Tranche said.

“In the sixth wave, we can’t do what we were doing in the first wave. To achieve different results, we need to change the model,” he said.

The Spanish Ministry of Health said it was premature to share a blueprint drafted by experts and advisors, but authorities have said that the “sentinel surveillance” currently used in the EU to monitor influenza We confirmed that we would follow the existing model as one proposal.

This strategy is called the “influenzaization” of COVID-19 by the Spanish media, but authorities say the influenza system needs to be significantly adapted to the coronavirus.

For now, discussions about the transition to an endemic approach are limited to wealthy countries that can afford to talk about the worst pandemics of the past tense. Access to vaccines and a strong public health system are the envy of developing countries.

Also, it is not clear how unique strategies coexist. “Zero Corona” approach Adopted in China and other Asian countries, how does it affect overseas travel?

Overwhelmed by the record number of Omicron cases, many countries have already given up on large-scale testing and shortening of quarantine times, especially for workers who show only cold-like symptoms. Since the beginning of this year, classes at Spanish schools have only stopped in the event of an outbreak, not in the first previously reported case.

In Portugal With one of the highest immunization rates in the worldIn a New Year’s speech, President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza declared that the country “has entered the stage of endemic disease.” However, the debate on specific measures has come to an end as spreads quickly accelerated to record levels. Approximately 44,000 new cases were reported in the 24 hours reported on Tuesday.

However, hospitalizations and deaths in the vaccinated world are proportionally much lower than in previous surges.

In the UK, wearing a mask in public places and a COVID-19 passport will be dropped on January 26th. Prime Minister Boris Johnson Announces Wednesday The latest wave says it has “peaked nationwide.”

The requirement for infected people to be quarantined for a full five days remains valid, but Johnson said he would try to dispose of it in the coming weeks if the virus data continues to improve. Official statistics show that 95% of the UK population develops antibodies against COVID-19 from either infection or vaccination.

“As the COVID epidemic, we need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance to encourage people infected with the virus to be alert and considerate of others,” Johnson said. ..

For some other European governments, the idea of ​​normalizing COVID-19 is at odds with their efforts to boost vaccination among passive groups.

In Germany Less than 73% of the population receive two doses, and infection rates set new records almost every day., Spain or comparison with other countries is rejected.

“There are still too many unvaccinated people, especially among the elderly,” Health Department spokesman Andreas Defner said on Monday.

Italy has extended its vaccination obligations to all citizens over the age of 50 and has fined unvaccinated people appearing in the workplace up to € 1,500. Italians also need to be completely vaccinated To access public transport, planes, gyms, hotels and trade fairs.


Associated Press writers Maria Cheng, Danica Kirka, Sylvia Hui (London), Raf Casert (Brussels), Colleen Barry (Milan, Italy) and Geir Moulson (Berlin) contributed to this report.


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