OPINION

Deaths, denial and fatigue

deaths-denial-and-fatigue

The number of coronavirus-related deaths reported last weekend served as a painful wake-up call about the terrible situation the country is in. Just to paint a picture, Greece reported 150 fatalities in 48 hours on Saturday and Sunday, when Italy, with five times its population, had 78. And what this means is that Greece has a very, very big problem, no matter the efforts of some to whitewash the truth.

The size and severity of the problem is not news: The data reported on the course of the pandemic every day are irrefutable and the agonized pleas of doctors and officials on the need for vaccination relentless. No one who has refused the vaccine can claim not to have been informed about the coronavirus and its consequences. All the talk about the authorities’ failure to communicate with those sections of the population that continue to resist the vaccine is nothing more than a poor excuse, without foundation. In fact, it shows a complete denial of the truth about the makeup and mentality of Greek society.

Our experience with Covid-19 so far allows no doubt as to the disease’s deadly and devastating effects and the virus’ incredible adaptability and its transmissibility, which Delta variant has made even stronger. These factors are even more evident in the fourth wave of the pandemic that is lashing Europe as a whole – to a greater or smaller extent – right now. More recent experience has also taught us that the vaccines basically protect us from becoming gravely ill, but not, unfortunately, for a very long time, which is why a booster shot is essential six months after the initial vaccination, especially for older and more vulnerable people.

That said, we know that the large number of infections in Greece is due to the equally large number of people who continue to defy vaccination because they believe in pseudoscience, superstitions and conspiracy theories, because they’re influenced by priests with medieval ideas, because they believe rumor and innuendo etc. What that tells us, though, is that the standard is very low among a large part of the population. Let’s just admit it already, instead of boasting about the glorious past and other convenient excuses. And the worst part of it is that this “class” of Greeks has literally blossomed thanks to the general sense of impunity that has always prevailed in society, and gone on to become part of the system and to determine day-to-day life to a significant degree – and politicians and the media are to blame.

All of this could be said to come under the catchphrase “This is Greece.” Specifically, the unacceptably large number of fatalities is explained by the fact that many unvaccinated Covid-19 sufferers wait too long to seek help and often end up in hospital when it’s too late for anything to be done. But could it also be in some way due to the unbearable physical, mental and emotional strain sustained by medical staff who have been fighting this virus without rest for nearly two years? If so, the problem is even bigger and more insurmountable.