ATHENS – The infectious diseases professor who became the face and calm voice in advising the government and public when the COVID-19 pandemic broke in early 2020 said that vaccines being shunned by many have saved some 8,400 lives.
“The idea that vaccines do not work is just wrong,” said Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras, who earlier said he feared that people have become complacent as health restrictions were being relaxed, seeing the Coronavirus spreading.
The Eleftheria (Freedom) vaccination campaign began in December, 2020 and after a lag it took off into the summer but has stalled since, with about 62 percent of the country’s population of 10.7 million fully inoculated.
That, however, is less than the 70 percent needed to slow the pandemic and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who made shots mandatory for only health workers, is sticking to a persuasion campaign that hasn’t worked.
There’s also a vociferous and violent anti-vaxxer movement that has protested in the streets against any idea of being forced to get the shots, believing the vaccines aren’t safe or effective or are part of a conspiracy to alter their DNA.
The latest estimates also indicate that 5,530 intensive care unit (ICU) admissions have been averted thanks to the shots, Tsiodras said while presenting health data up to Oct. 11, reported Kathimerini.
He said that some people are vaccinated will still be infected, but a small amount compared to those who aren’t, with health authorities saying the inoculated are far likely less to become ill or need hospitalization.
There’s also worry the number of cases and hospitalizations will rise in the cooler and autumn months with people indoors more although that’s supposed to be limited in public places to the vaccinated or with negative tests or having proof of recovery from the virus.
There has been a steady increase in epidemiological indicators, with an average of 2,647 cases recorded daily, which is almost 400 more than in the previous seven days.
The pressure on hospitals in northern Greece remains high, with the occupancy rate in Intensive Care Units (ICUS) consistently over 90 percent, the paper said.