Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

The head of the European Medicines Agency says the increase in immunity will accelerate shifting, as the WHO says half of Europe could become infected by March.

Hello. Welcome to Al Jazeera’s COVID-19 Live Blog. I’m Ted Regencia and will keep you posted on the latest developments in the pandemic over the next few hours.

The European Medicines Agency, the region’s drug regulator, says the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant across the continent is pushing COVID-19 to be an endemic disease that humans can live with.

“With the increase in immunity in the population – and with Omicron, there will be a lot of natural immunity taking place in addition to vaccination – we will quickly move to a scenario that will be closer to endemism,” said Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam regulator, told reporters on Tuesday.

Other major developments:

  • The UK’s education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, told Sky News that the British government hoped the country would be one of the first in the world to ‘transition’ from pandemic to endemic.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that more than half of Europe’s people could catch Omicron by March.
  • The WHO also said this booster repetition is not a good strategy against emerging variants of the virus, and that more effort should be made to ensure that poorer countries get their first course of vaccines.

Here are the latest updates from Wednesday:

China’s Tianjin launches new round of COVID tests for 14 million people

At least 14 million residents of the city of Tianjin in China have started a new round of COVID-19 testing to stop the spread of Omicron.

Tianjin reported 33 domestically transmitted coronavirus infections with confirmed symptoms for Tuesday, up from 10 a day earlier, according to the country’s coronavirus monitor.

The city on Wednesday ordered a half-day off for employees at companies and other institutions and required them to stay home to comply with the city’s second round of mass testing, the news agency Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, China’s city of Shenzhen has also reported four new cases of the virus. As of Monday, the city has completed more than 22 million tests in four days, as the city is also trying to limit the spread of COVID.

German commercial body warns of major supply chain disruption over Omicron

In Germany, the country’s trade association has warned of significant supply chain disruption due to the rapid spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but said a long-term collapse of the supply chains is unlikely.

“There is no risk of collapse, but of a massive disruption of the supply chain – at least temporarily,” Dirk Jandura, president of the BGA trade association, was quoted as saying by the newspaper group Funke on Wednesday.

German industry has been hit by supply shortages of microchips and other components, while increasing COVID-19 cases cloud the outlook for retailers at the beginning of 2022.

Indonesia postpones booster shots for free

Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced on Wednesday that the country will roll out its COVID amplifier shots for free, according to the Jakarta Post.

The government initially planned to ask the majority of Indonesia’s 270 million inhabitants have to pay for the boosters out of their own pockets.

There have been concerns that the deployment could exacerbate vaccine inequality across the country. Only about 117 million Indonesians have been fully vaccinated out of a population of more than 270 million since the campaign began on January 13 last year.

Read all the updates from January 11 here.

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