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EU Sees Signs That 4th COVID Wave Is Already Slowing

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Dec 11, 2021 - 01:45 PM

This isn't a good look for all those CEOs and public health experts (in South Africa, Europe, the US and elsewhere) who immediately hit the panic button after news of the omicron variant first rattled markets on the typically quiet Friday after the American Thanksgiving holiday.

With the number of confirmed cases of omicron having barely entered 4-digit territory (and that's a global count, to be sure), it looks like the latest wave of COVID infections in Europe has already started to wane, marking what very well could be an unexpectedly premature end to the "fourth wave" of COVID.

The biggest drop can be seen in Austria, which has seen its 7-day average plunge by more than half since omicron emerged. But its much larger neighbor Germany is in the midst of a clear plateau.

Austria made headlines last month when it became one of the first EU members to adopt new lockdowns and other measures to protect against surging COVID cases. Its three-week lockdown is expected to end on Sunday, but restrictions are expected to remain in place for those who haven't been vaccinated.

A look at aggregate case data for the entire EU shows that the bloc has seen cases plateau.

The pace of new cases is also slowing in the Netherlands, and several other EU members. However, some European countries - including Switzerland (not a member of the EU) - are still seeing cases spread.

To try and stem the tide of the still-nascent omicron variant, Germany and other European nations are scrambling to dole out boosters. Germany's new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has even raised the prospect of a vaccine mandate. He's expected to meet with leaders of Germany's states to discuss the prospect of imposing even more restrictions before Christmas. But just days before taking over from outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, Scholz raised the possibility that he will take a harder line on those who refuse the jab.

Preliminary research rooted in test-tube experiments where copies of the omicron virus are allowed to invade samples of human tissue have purportedly shown the new strain to be more than 4x more infectious than the delta variant - the strain that is currently dominating the globe.

But it's still too premature for data gleaned from the real world to be analyzed. Scientists have warned that omicron's mutations to the virus's spike protein will make it easier for omicron to evade vaccine-induced, as well as natural, immunity. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.

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