With cases of the Omicron variant reaching 17 on Thursday, health authorities are citing its high contagiousness as they warn about the likelihood of another another major outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the coming months.
And with gaps in the knowledge of the scientific community regarding the clinical characteristics of the coronavirus variant, health authorities in Greece and abroad have been placed on high alert.
Concern is mounting over yet more pressure on the country’s already overburdened National Health System (ESY) and speculation is also growing in tandem that restrictive measures on movement may be reintroduced. Indicatively, as of Sunday, visitors from abroad will have to show a negative result of a laboratory test in order to gain entry to the country.
“The measures are being taken to save time, so that we have more data on the clinical characteristics of the virus and the protection provided by the treatments we have, as well as to vaccinate the population,” said infectious disease specialist Charalambos Gogos in comments to Kathimerini.
“This is a new variant and we know its biological characteristics, namely what the virus is, its mutations and where they are located. But we do not know the clinical characteristics of the virus,” he added.
The information, he stressed, is coming slowly, mainly from South Africa, where it has completely replaced the Delta variant, but also from the United Kingdom, where there has been a massive rise in Omicron cases.
“It seems to be a strain that has great penetration and is very contagious. We still have a gap in our knowledge as to whether it can bypass immunity,” Gogos explained, noting that the early indications suggest that it can in some instance bypasses immunity and pose a risk even to triple-vaccinated people. Vaccines appear to cover a significant extent of serious illness and this effect is multiplied by the third dose.