The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe said Sunday that Omicron has moved the COVID pandemic into a new phase and could come to an end in the continent, according to Medical Xpress.

In a recent interview with AFP, Dr. Hans Kluge said, “It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” adding that the Omicron variant could infect 60% of Europeans by March.

He said once the current wave of Omicron, which is sweeping across Europe, subsides, “there will be for quite some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection, and also lowering seasonality.”

“We anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before COVID-19 may come back towards the end of the year,” Dr. Kluge added, “but not necessarily the pandemic coming back.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States, expressed similar optimism on Sunday.

He told ABC News talk show This Week that with COVID cases are coming down “rather sharply” in parts of the United States, “things are looking good.”

Dr. Fauci cautioned against overconfidence and said that if the recent fall in cases in areas, like the Northeast United States, continues, “I believe that you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country.”

Last week, the WHO Regional Office for Africa also said that COVID cases had plummeted in that region and deaths were declining for the first time since the Omicron’s fourth wave of the virus reached its peak.

Studies have shown that Omicron is more contagious than Delta, but generally, it has been found that it leads to less severe infection among vaccinated people, suggesting that COVID-19 is shifting from a dangerous pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu.

However, Dr. Kluge cautioned that it was still too early to consider COVID endemic.

He said, “There is a lot of talk about endemic but endemic means … that it is possible to predict what’s going to happen. This virus has surprised (us) more than once so we have to be very careful.”

Dr. Kluge also warned that Omicron is spreading widely so there is a possibility of other variants to emerge.

Omicron is now the dominant strain in the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA), according to the EU health agency ECDC.

Dr. Kluge said emphasis ought to be on “minimizing disruption of hospitals, schools, and the economy, and putting huge efforts on protecting the vulnerable,” rather than measures to stop transmission.

Meanwhile, he urged people to take precautions and exercise personal responsibility. He said, “If you don’t feel well, stay home, take a self-test. If you’re positive, isolate.”

Dr. Kluge said the priority was to stabilize the situation in Europe.

“Stabilizing means that the health system is no longer overwhelmed due to COVID-19 and can continue with the essential health services,” he added, “which have unfortunately been really disrupted for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and routine immunization.” Upon asking whether fourth doses would be necessary to end the pandemic, Dr. Kluge cautioned by stating that “we know that that immunity jumps up after each shot of the vaccine.”