Half of Europe will have caught the Omicron Covid variant within the next six to eight weeks if current trends hold, according to The World Health Organization.
 
Dr Hans Kluge, based this estimate on the 7 million cases recorded in Europe during the first week of January 2022. Infections more than doubled over a two week period. 
 
Although recent studies suggest that Omicron is less likely to make people seriously ill than previous Covid variants, Omicron is still highly contagious. Dr Kluge confirmed that the variant has a high transmissibility according to the latest data and that it adheres to human cells more easily, infecting even previously infected or vaccinated people.
 
WHO officials have reiterated that existing coronavirus vaccines provide protection against severe disease and death against the delta and omicron variants’ infection. The extent of protection will still be confirmed through ongoing research. As expected, the increased numbers of infection has led to rising numbers of Covid-19 hospitalizations leaving health systems under severe strain. The WHO has expressed concern that hospitalizations will increase even more in countries with a lower rate of vaccinations.
Some hospitals in the UK reported "critical" incidents due to staff absences and rising pressures caused by Covid. In France, the Health Minister, Olivier Veran, warned hospitals that January would be tough. According to Varan, Omicron patients were filling up "conventional" beds in hospitals, and Delta was putting a strain on ICU’s.
 
Poland has the sixth-highest mortality rate in the world from Covid-19, with 100,000 people that have died from the virus. Poland still has a population of almost 40% that are still not vaccinated.
Anna Popova, a top consumer health official, presented to the Russian government's coronavirus task force that the daily number of new Covid cases could reach 100,000 if actions are not taken to control the spread of the virus. In Russia, the daily infection rate had recently been declining but 305 known cases of the Omicron variant had been detected in multiple regions.