Jan 11, 2022 - Health

WHO warns against treating COVID as "endemic"

eople wearing face masks as precautionary measures against the spread of covid-19 are seen walking along a commercial area at the Vendrell Tarragona.
People wearing face masks walk along a commercial area at the Vendrell Tarragona in Spain on Jan. 5. Photo: Ramon Costa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization warned Tuesday against treating COVID-19 as an "endemic" illness.

Driving the news: "We still have a huge amount of uncertainty and a virus that is evolving quite quickly, imposing new challenges," Catherine Smallwood, WHO's senior emergency officer for Europe, said during a Tuesday press briefing.

  • "We are certainly not at the point where we are able to call it endemic. It may become endemic in due course, but pinning that down to 2022 is a little bit difficult at this stage," Smallwood said.

The big picture: The remarks come after Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for a debate in Europe to move away from a detailed COVID-19 tracking system and more toward a flu-like monitoring system, AP reports.

  • "I believe that we have the conditions for, with precaution, slowly, opening the debate ... to start evaluating the evolution of this disease with different parameters than we have until now," Sánchez said.

What she's saying: "All of this of course depends on how we respond to it. Widespread vaccination uptake ... will be very, very key in moving toward such a scenario and we're still a way off that," Smallwood said.

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