ATHENS — Greece will be getting the first vaccines against Covid-19 sooner than expected – possibly even within 2020 – after their approval was brought forward by European agencies, but the number of vaccines will be fewer at first, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said on radio station "Parapolitika" on Wednesday.
"We will get fewer vaccines because all of Europe is getting fewer … the vaccines – such as Pfizer's, for example – appear to be fewer than initially planned, at least for the month of January," Petsas explained.
According to the spokesperson, the situation was in flux, which meant that the initial planning was liable to change, with the number of vaccines that will be ready to be delivered by one company were currently reduced by 40 percent.
"The ones that we will get will be just over 300,000. The next few days we will break this down further," he added.
Petsas explained that the government was prioritising the way that citizens will be informed and the vaccination centres, adding that the most crucial part of the chain will be the start of deliveries to warehouses where the specialised ultra-cold medical freezers will be located.
"It is a titanic project. For its operation, it does not matter greatly whether you have 300,000 or 600,000 doses. For January, therefore, we are focusing on making sure the system is running smoothly. Then from February onwards, to have the greater quantities we expect and continue the vaccinations on a larger scale, beyond the at-risk groups and healthcare personnel," he said.
He said the general mood in Europe was to proceed cautiously and not cultivate expectations that might later be disappointed.
Regarding the Covid-19 restrictions, Petsas said that relaxing the measures over the holidays would "send the wrong message". He noted that the situation was currently moving in the right direction, albeit slowly, and it was now important not to disrupt this downward trend.
"If we manage this, then there will be no reason to extend the restrictions. There is, however, no chance of relaxing them during the holidays. There is a chance they will become tougher. Relaxation would send the wrong message. We are facing a very grave danger. If we don't observe the measures we will trigger a third wave, which will be extremely dangerous given that the health system has come under great pressure," he said.
He noted that Covid-19 levels were not responding adequately to the measures in certain areas, meaning that even tougher restrictions may be imposed in the weeks leading up to January 7.
For the holiday period, he emphasised the need to restrict contact to a limited circle of just two families, at the most. "Not more than that because the circle will then open up too much… if we open the circle of people that we come into contact with on these days, then we multiply the danger that those we love will fall ill and that there will be uncontrollable spread in the community."
Referring to the 2021 budget, he said this earmarked 7.5 billion euros for the support of households and businesses.