ATHENS – Opening the door to tourists unchecked for COVID-19 and easing health measures in a rush to speed an economic recovery has seen Greece hit with the fastest-spread of the most contagious wave of the Coronavirus.
That hasn’t perturbed the New Democracy government though as cases that were reported daily are now being reported only weekly although it wasn’t said if that was an attempt to hide how serious the new wave is.
While the government is reporting 15,000-20,000 cases daily, Professor of Pulmonology and Vice President of the Hellenic Respiratory Society Nikos Tzanakis told Open TV that it’s really 30,000-50,000.
He said that the BA.5 subvariant of the Omicron strand of COVID-19 is transmitted rapidly and has “strong symptoms,” though this is not causing alarm, even though even those fully vaccinated can be infected with serious symptoms, including being put on ventilators.
“We are worried by the reinfections that some patients are experiencing as they modify our defense systems against other viruses,” he said, with mutations being new strains that vaccines don’t fully work against.
Tzanakis predicted that the current wave will peak in late July and de-escalate very slowly and with a roller coaster ride in August, during the height of the summer tourism season, the government going full speed ahead anyway.
“But we do fear a new variant. A surprise may be in store in late September,” he predicted, when many of those who have three shots of vaccines will likely get a fourth booster – a month before flu shots will be available.
Giorgos Pappas, a Doctor of Pathology at the University of Ioannina Medical School with research work in the field of infectious diseases, agreed that Greece should brace for more.
“We are not at the tail end of the pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve and unfortunately this is something we cannot predict and control,” he told the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency.
While much of society is acting as if the Coronavirus is gone, it isn’t and he said it’s producing new variants that evade immune defenses resulting in reinfections, rising since the appearance of Omicron.
But he also that vaccine boosters do reduce the likelihood of reinfection and increase immune protection against the risk of severe COVID, without explaining why up to half the cases in ICU’s are fully vaccinated.