ATHENS – The rising COVID-19 pandemic in Greece could crest right at Christmas as the New Democracy government is scrambling to save the critical shopping period for businesses while barring the unvaccinated from going into most public gathering places.
Health Minister Thanos Plevris told journalists that the Coronavirus resurgence will continue as the government is relying on a plan to push vaccinations and restrict those who refuse to be inoculated.
Despite record numbers of cases, hospitalizations, people on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and deaths, he reiterated that, “There will be no (generalized lockdown) nor is there a recommendation to that effect from the scientific committee” advising the government, he claimed, said Kathimerini, although some members of the panel had warned it will get worse and suggested more restrictions.
He said that it will get better – after it gets worse – because “Seventy-three percent of the adult population has been vaccinated and is not at risk of serious disease,” contradicting data that shows 40 percent of the new infections are those vaccinated whose protection is wearing off.
Health officials said that 70 percent of the country’s population of 10.7 million people need to be fully protected to slow the pandemic but the efficacy of the vaccine for many has waned and there’s a rush for booster shots.
He said that the booster shot program is “going very well,” without giving any details at the same time he admitted that the pandemic is putting so much pressure on public hospitals that private doctors had to be conscripted.
Further contradicting himself, he said that, “We do not have the number of vaccinations we want…there is no interest from the elderly for the first dose,” after he said he was satisfied with the vaccination program.
He said that most of those over 60, who are the most susceptible to being infected, hospitalized or dying, don’t want the shots, nor do a rabid anti-vaxxer segment who doubt the vaccines work or that they are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA and control their minds.
Appointments for first shots of the two required inoculations of versions apart from the single shot Johnson & Johnson are rising after many skeptics were apparently frightened into getting them because of the rise in deaths, but those are being made mostly by the young, the report said.
“We will have a difficult winter ahead of us,” Maria Theodoridou, President of the National Vaccination Committee, said at a regular briefing of the media as the Coronavirus spreads faster in indoor settings.
Theodoridou said that people who take the booster shot develop additional immunity very fast, with antibodies rising just two or three days after the shot and need that protection.
She added that the third dose of the vaccines has helped reduce the spread of the virus and the number of cases even though Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis backed away from pledges to consider mandatory shots if the pandemic got worse, and it did but he didn’t.
Theodoridou noted that the virus’ Delta mutation has increased re-infection in people who have been sick and vaccinated, and pointed out that booster shots offer the best possible immunity.
She cautioned that natural immunity alone is not able to protect 100 percent from the coronavirus as several studies have established.
Marios Themistokleous, Secretary General for Primary Health Care at the Ministry of Health said, “We have exceeded 13,860,000 vaccinations. More than 6,910,000 of our fellow citizens have been vaccinated with at least one dose, which corresponds to 65.8 percent of the general population and 75.3 percent of the adult population,” said
But then he said that, “More than 6,550,000 … have completed their vaccination, which corresponds to 62.3 percent of the general population and 71.8 percent of the adult population … the vaccination program is in full swing, we have the capacity for over 110,000 vaccinations a day,” he added.