OREANDA-NEWS. The emergence of the omicron strain of the coronavirus may mean the onset of the final stage of the pandemic, said the head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology of the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Honored Doctor of Russia, Vladimir Nikiforov, in an interview with the radio "Moscow Says".

According to him, the new variant of the virus, which originated in South Africa, is more infectious, but causes significantly less severe forms and does not cause dangerous lung lesions. As a result, COVID-19 is starting to move into the category of seasonal respiratory illness, he added.

"I think that maybe this is the beginning of the end of this nightmare. I would like to think that this is the first signal that the virus has begun to recede," Nikiforov said.

The rise in COVID-19 infections in Europe in the past two months has been due to the delta strain, but the omicron could exacerbate the situation, said Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the technical team at the World Health Organization's Emergency Diseases Unit.

“We have seen growth in the last two months in Europe. And this is thanks to the 'delta'. And a new strain could aggravate the situation,” she said, speaking during an online session of answers to questions about the situation with the coronavirus.

It is therefore imperative to continue to support epidemiological measures to limit the spread of the delta variant, she said. In particular, vaccination campaigns for the population need to be strengthened.