Omicron variant
Omicron variantiStock

A top official in the World Health Organization (WHO) believes that Europe could soon enter a "long period of tranquility" from COVID-19 due to high vaccination rates, the milder Omicron variant and the end of winter.

"This period of higher protection should be seen as a ceasefire that could bring us enduring peace", WHO Europe director Hans Kluge told reporters on Thursday, according to AFP.

"This context, that we have not experienced so far in this pandemic, leaves us with the possibility for a long period of tranquility," he added.

Europe would also be in a better position to fend off any resurgence in transmission, "even with a more virulent variant" than Omicron, said Kluge.

"I believe that it is possible to respond to new variants that will inevitably emerge -- without re-installing the kind of disruptive measures we needed before", Kluge said.

At the same time, he cautioned that the optimistic scenario would only hold true if countries continued their vaccination campaigns and intensified surveillance to detect new variants.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)