Amid Greece’s dire epidemiological forecasts regarding this autumn, health experts are raising concerns over what they describe as an explosive cocktail.
The ingredients of this cocktail are the low vaccination coverage of the population, at only 52-53% – well below the corresponding average in Europe – and the increasing pressure on hospitals, which will be further compounded by reduced staff numbers as a result of the suspension of unvaccinated medical workers.
“We will have strong upheavals until Christmas and then the epidemic wave will begin to de-escalate,” said Nikos Sypsas, professor of infectious diseases at Athens University, head of the Infection Unit at the Laiko Hospital and a member of the committee of experts advising the government on the pandemic.
“The Delta variant has a reproduction rate that reaches 8, while the original virus did not exceed 2.4. This huge contagion, combined with the large number of unvaccinated people, almost 4 million, creates ideal conditions for the outbreak of cases,” he said.
“On the other hand, there are many who are vaccinated – almost half the population – and vaccines may not protect against infection, but they do protect against serious illness, intubation and death. We will have shocks, then, but I believe that we will endure,” Sypsas said.
For his part, Ioannis Kioumis, professor of pulmonology and infectious diseases at Aristotle University, said that the omens are not promising.
“Unlike this time last year, when Covid units were almost empty, this year we entered September with a lot of cases, with the virus now infecting vaccinated people and medical staff are exhausted,” he said, adding that with the suspensions of healthcare workers, “it is certain that in the coming months, autumn and winter, we will find ourselves in an even more difficult position.”