Going into the northern hemisphere winter without much tangible data of what the Omicron variant is doing to the population, plus surging protests against any measure to contain the pandemic, Europe is facing a crisis as case numbers surge past 350,000 per day.
Over 15 countries in Europe have reported confirmed cases of the new variant that has rattled financial markets. The European Union’s public health agency said on Thursday that the Omicron variant could be responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 infections in Europe within a few months.
Even before the discovery of Omicron, Europe was pandemic’s epicentre with 66 out of every 100 new infections each day coming from European countries
The Reuters data shows the pace of the pandemic has picked up speed in the second half of 2021. Europe has reported highest daily average of 359,000 new cases in second half as compared with highest daily cases of about 241,000 a day in the first half of the year.
Now come the restrictions and various border closures with each member state of the EU taking a different approach, with the added complexity of low vaccination rates, particularly in former Eastern bloc countries, hampering efforts to resist the spread of the new variant.