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Letter from Athens: The Crazies: Greece's Drooling Anti-Vaxxers Spread Fear Too

Αssociated Press

A Greek orthodox priest stands in front of riot police during a rally, at the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP/Photo Giannis Papanikos)

This is a tale of three countries during the COVID-19 pandemic: Denmark, Bulgaria, and Greece, scientifically speaking.

Denmark became the first European Union country to lift coronavirus restrictions, effectively declaring that the virus was no longer a “critical threat to society” and allowing the country to get back to near normal.

Why?

“This can only be done because we have come a long way with the vaccination rollout, have a strong epidemic control, and because the entire Danish population has made an enormous effort to get here,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said.

Some 73 percent of people in Denmark are fully vaccinated and 76 percent have had the first of two required shots, lifting the veil of terror there although tourists have to be free of the virus and prove it.

In Bulgaria, where corruption is exceeded only by ignorance, only 20 percent of a population of 7 million have been fully vaccinated, and the result is that the country has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths in the EU.

Standing outside the rundown public hospital in Bulgaria’s northern town of Veliko Tarnovo, the vaccination unit’s chief nurse told The Associated Press a sad reality: “They don’t believe in vaccines.”

Mariya Sharkova, a public health law specialist, said it's because of low trust in the government and institutions and fake news peddled by anti-vaxxers. They think the shots aren't safe or effective or are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA or control their minds.

“In Bulgaria, we don’t have good health literacy,” she told the AP. “Many people choose to believe conspiracy theories and fake news.”

That brings us to The Crazies in Greece, the rabid – dogs with rabies aren't this vicious – anti-vaxxers who not only don't want to be vaccinated but they don't want YOU to be vaccinated, or for people who are infected to go a hospital and to refuse critical care and being put on ventilators.

As belief in conspiracy theories go, the idea pharmaceutical companies and governments around the world got together at a Chinese restaurant in Wuhan and unleashed the virus so they could make money with vaccines is right up there with those people who think the Titanic sinking was faked using a second ship to collect insurance money.

Cue the Dr. Who music please.

The only part of the plot The Crazies missed is that it's pretty obvious that the conspirators put the coronavirus on airplanes and dropped it in chem trails before realizing that it would pretty much shut down international air travel.

If these people in Greece weren't so dangerous you could dismiss them as the sad troglodytes they are, who apparently evolved from some primordial ooze but didn't develop fully formed brains.

If they were around during the polio epidemic they would have bashed Dr. Jonas Salk, whose research in the United States led to the vaccine against the paralyzing virus – and who refused a patent that would have made him rich.

Greece's anti-vaxxers include about 10 percent of health care workers – including in public hospitals where they watch people take their last breaths because of COVID – and who have been suspended without pay.

But the ranks are a curious mix of extremist neanderthals, the ultra-religious, and the far-left who think the Conservatives of the New Democracy government are in on the plot to take over their minds and who froth at the mouth over it.

Some are now felons too, getting their hands on fake vaccination certificates so they won't be barred from going into restaurants, bars, taverns, music halls, movie theaters, and indoor gathering spots off limits to the unvaccinated.

Greece's vaccination rate of fully protected is only about 56 percent, far less than the 70 percent benchmark needed to beat back the pandemic and that's not going to be reached until Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis makes shots mandatory.

He won't because he's afraid of the political fallout, particularly among the young where his support is weak and he won't even act to make shots a requirement for police where 22 percent – more than twice that of health workers – haven't gotten their shots although they are required to enforce health restrictions.

The ones walking around with fake certificates are carrying more than that: they could be infected, targeted by the Delta Variant, making them carriers who could put others in hospitals or the morgue and graves. That's why they have to be stopped, not for political reasons, but health.

The man who's charged with that is new Health Minister Thanos Plevris, a lawyer who has no experience in the field and who said the law is the law and it has to be followed, unless it's promoting hatred, violence, racism and anti-Semitism like his father – whom he defended in court – believes and got away with it. This isn't even stopping short of being a Nazi.

Plevris – the, ahem, Health Minister – wanted deadly force used against migrants, wanted them deprived of food, water and – ahem, health care – and in July this year wrote a newspaper op-ed showing the anti-vaxxers had a recruit.

“If the citizen does not want to be vaccinated, is it my responsibility to convince him or to go and be vaccinated himself?” Ahem, yes.