ATHENS — The danger that the Delta coronavirus variant poses for people that haven't been vaccinated was highlighted by Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos on Wednesday, in an interview with Skai radio. He noted that it was possible for someone to book even a next-day appointment for vaccination and he spoke with emphasis about the rights of the vaccinated majority.
He also commented on the two-year anniversary since the government was elected to power, noting that the changes were starting to become apparent, both at home and with respect to the country's image abroad.
"At this time, Greece is seen and treated as a country but that is small but pioneering and not to be overlooked. During its handling of the pandemic, Greece distinguished itself on many levels, both in terms of the policy tools we used to deal with the pandemic and support the citizens and with respect to our initiatives on a European level: the European digitical vaccination certificate, for example," Skertsos said.
Despite its small size, he added, Greece was launching initiatives that were being listened to and adopted and this was due to the government's efforts.
Now that the vaccine was widely available and a majority of the population has had at least one dose of a vaccine, the government's position was "that horizontal restrictions are no longer necessary, are unfair, unconstitutional and fiscally not tolerable," Skertsos said, adding that the majority were protected and it was necessary to adapt to this reality.
He repeated a call to people to get vaccinated, stressing that the vaccines were effective and safe, and said it was a question of fairness toward the majority, not creating a 'two-speed' society. "The majority are vaccinated and the economy will forge ahead," he said.
Skertsos also emphasised the need to continue observing protection measures, since the pandemic was not over and the new variant was highly transmissible and dangerous for those that have not been vaccinated.
In this context, he highlighted the usefulness of frequent testing by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, so that cases are found early and isolated. Regarding the free self-tests that all adults could pick up at the pharmacies, he said that 60 pct of current cases were detected through self tests, making them a valuable tool for the prompt detection of the virus.
Skertsos also pointed out that the surge in the Delta variant has not been accompanied by a rise in serious illness and deaths, showing that the vaccines work, though the variants are extremely dangerous for those that are not vaccinated.
Finally, he welcomed a significant rise in new appointments for vaccination following the announcement of incentives by the government and rising concern over the Delta variant.