The agency expressed doubts about the administration of a fourth booster dose of vaccine, stressing that the repeated administration of doses is not a “sustainable” strategy.
“No one knows exactly when we will reach the end of the tunnel, but we will get there,” said Marco Cavalieri, head of vaccination strategy at the European Medicines Agency, which is based in Amsterdam.
“With increased immunity in the population – and the spread of Omicron will provide more natural immunity in addition to vaccination – we will move quickly towards a more endemic scenario,” Cavalieri said at a press conference.
But he stressed that “we must not forget that we are still in a pandemic.”
Also, the European branch of the World Health Organization has indicated that it is currently impossible to classify the virus as endemic as influenza.
“We still have a virus that evolves very quickly and poses new challenges. So we are certainly not about to consider it endemic,” said Catherine Smallwood, WHO emergencies official in Europe.
According to the WHO, more than half of Europeans could be infected with the Omicron mutant within two months in light of the current “tidal wave”.
The World Health Organization has warned that combating the Covid-19 pandemic with booster doses of existing vaccines is not a viable strategy, a view agreed by the European Medicines Agency.
“If our strategy is to give the boosters every four months, we will end up having problems with the immune response,” said Marco Cavalieri.
“Secondly, there is, of course, the risk of overburdening the population from the continuous administration of booster doses,” he added.
Instead, the official called on countries to start considering longer and early winter boosters, such as the flu shot.
Although omicron appears to be more contagious than other mutant ones, studies have shown a reduced risk of hospitalization after infection with this mutant estimated to be between a third and a half of the risk compared to Delta, according to the European Medicines Agency.