NEWS

Vaccines are building herd immunity

vaccines-are-building-herd-immunity

The Greek government, eager to fully open up economic activity, is working to accelerate vaccinations to help develop so-called herd immunity against the coronavirus sooner rather than later.

To ensure greater participation in the vaccination drive, the government must convince people that the vaccines are safe despite recent concerns about the products of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

The economy has been suffocating under the variable lockdown conditions and state coffers are getting thinner. The Finance Ministry wants the latest aid package of €3 billion to prop up struggling businesses to be the last, having already exceeded budget projections.

A positive development is that there are now data showing that vaccinations are working: even though intubations are still breaking record highs, they are on the decline for the over-75s, a great part of whom have completed their two jabs.

Intubations are still rising steeply for those aged 65-74, but vaccinations for this age group have only begun recently – on March 26 for those aged 70-74 and on April 2 for the 65-69 group. There is also a slight upward trend for the under 60s, who have not started vaccinations yet. The same trends are evident in the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

At the office of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, there is guarded optimism, after many difficult weeks, that the number of new cases will begin to gradually decline, followed by a drop in hospitalizations and intubations, easing the pressure on the public health system. 

Officials are also satisfied that a relaxation of restrictions in retail has not led to a rise in the viral load. But, there is another test coming up in the middle of the week: the effect of the opening of high schools the previous Monday, with students having to produce self-test results to be able to attend.

While the reopening of the economy will be careful, the government is betting that the tourism season, on which so much of the economy depends, will open as planned on May 14.

The progress of the pandemic will also affect whether residents will be allowed to make the customary trip to their ancestral villages to celebrate Easter. The Orthodox Easter falls on May 2 this year. A final decision is expected Friday.