With a little bit of luck, and if the sky does not fall on our heads (as the ancient Gauls said in the Asterix comics), the new year that just dawned will be better than the previous one, mainly because the issue that has occupied our lives since the start of 2020 – the coronavirus pandemic – seems to be becoming less dangerous.
The new Omicron variant that already dominates in the country appears to behave more or less like the flu. Thus, the vast majority of the Greek population that is already fully (approximately 70%), let alone the 3.5 million who have already received their booster shot, will be much less at risk compared to the Delta variant. Based on my own personal experience, those who do get infected will spend two or three days with a severely sore throat, runny nose, headache and maybe a fever, but will recover without, usually, having to be hospitalized and will return quickly to their daily routine without side-effects.
Of course, it is necessary for all of us to show restraint over the next 15-20 days as the Omicron variant continues to surge due to its rapid transmissibility, while Delta continues to infect people, burdening already overcrowded hospitals and ICUs, and exhausting medical staff.
Hopes for the country’s health crisis in 2022 are strengthened by the arrival of new drugs from Pfizer and Merck that are expected to significantly reduce the need for hospitalization because they prevent the spread of the virus in the human body. If things turn out as they look like they may, then 2022 is likely to be the year we have all been waiting for – with the most important development being fewer lives lost from the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is also expected to be a year of economic growth – at a rate of around 4.5% – despite the hike in prices caused by higher fuel prices. Tens of billions of euros coming from the European Recovery Fund are expected to boost the Greek market, along with the anticipated explosion in tourist arrivals in the summer months. Even during the difficult year of 2021, Greece proved to be a champion in tourism, collecting over 10 billion euros, or more than half (55%) of the tourism revenues seen in the “golden” year of 2019.
So, with a little bit of luck, Greece will turn a page in 2022.