The World Health Organization stated Tuesday that COVID-19 is surging in 18 of the 53 countries in the WHO European region, likely due to the more contagious Omicron subvariant known as BA.2.

“The countries where we see a particular increase are the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy and Germany,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said in a press conference in Moldova. “Those countries are lifting the restrictions brutally from too much to too few.”

WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said Friday that the pandemic is “far from over”, as the world is still “definitely in the middle of the pandemic."

Data from the United Nations agency shows that emerging COVID-19 cases in Europe have declined as January concluded, but have been increasing again since the beginning of this month.

“These increases are occurring despite reductions in testing in some countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The cases we're seeing are just the tip of the iceberg."

With health officials in the United States preparing for a budding surge in COVID-19 infections, Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that the necessity of a fourth dose of the vaccine is inevitable.

“I would project that sooner or later, we will need a fourth,” Fauci said. “I would predict that we are going to see a bit of an increase, or at least a flattening out and plateauing of the diminution of cases. And the question is how do we deal with that.”