Greece’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been “very successful” thanks to early containment measures, but if a vaccination is not developed soon, “we will face a real pandemic” in the fall and winter, the head of the Hellenic Pasteur Institute’s Department of Microbiology, Dr. Andreas Mentis, told the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) on Tuesday.
“As we all know, an epidemic can only be stopped by a vaccination and there are some hopeful messages on this front that the first vaccinations will become available in the fall or shortly after. Let’s hope this happens; otherwise we will face a real pandemic,” Mentis said.
Rising temperatures as we head to summer, he said, “may give us some breathing room and the time to explore even better treatments. There may even be a vaccination by the fall that will prevent the virus from spreading further next winter.”
Commenting on the use of Covid-19 testing kits, Mentis expressed reservations about the reliability of some of the products being sold on the international market, adding that the molecular tests being conducted in Greece are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The quick tests have the advantage of delivering results very soon after taking the sample, but they are not as reliable as the molecular tests conducted at the Pasteur and other certified laboratories,” said Mentis, adding that his institute processes between 300 and 500 samples a day.
The expert notes that a testing kit for novel coronavirus antibodies would be more useful at this point for assessing the virus’ spread across the population. “If testing is conducted on large number of people, this would allow us to see how many have antibodies, meaning that they came into contact with the virus at some point. This information would be valuable for health services to design their strategy for the next stage,” he told ANA-MPA.
Mentis also appears in favor of large-scale molecular testing, saying that this is would help identify people who are asymptomatic carriers and assess the impact of the virus on the population.
“Milder cases should probably be tested as well, as they may need treatment, which is something that is not happening right now,” Mentis said, referring to the guidelines of the National Organization for Public health (EODY), whereby only patients with clear Covid-19 symptoms are instructed to visit one of the country’s referral hospitals for testing.