COVID19: Cases will soar if younger people snub jab

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Scientists fear that Cyprus will see daily COVID-19 cases reach new heights if younger people do not get vaccinated soon.

Cases hit a 3-month high of 429 on Wednesday, and they are expected to continue rising.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis said the jump in cases could only mean the numbers will increase in the coming days, as the outbreak is building momentum.

Infections remained in double digits for most of May.

“I believe there are many young people who may not have gone for a test even though they know they were in close contact with a known case and may even have symptoms,” said Karayiannis.

He added that young people were showing a “reckless attitude” to the virus.

Asked on how cases could be brought back down, Karayiannis said that this had only been achievable through restrictions in the past.

“There are virtually no restrictions at the moment, while there are few checks carried out at places where young people gather, and usually not seated, but moving around and dancing,” said Karayiannis.

He argued that more checks need to be carried out in bars and clubs, as those are where clusters originate.

“I advise young people if they are to gather with other people to take a test before the event and stick to self-protection measures.”

Although a government advisor, Karayiannis, said he did not know what measures the authorities are contemplating.

“What is holding the government back from introducing restrictive measures is the high vaccination coverage among older groups which are protected.

“The virus is circulating among younger ages where coverage is much lower.

“If we do not convince the youth to get vaccinated, then we will not be seeing the number of daily cases dropping any time soon.”

If vaccination rates stay low among younger age groups, cases will stay higher through the summer unless coverage among under 40s exceeds 50%.

Some 70% of those under 40 have not had a COVID jab.

According to Health Ministry data, just 28.5% of people aged 18-19 have had a jab; for those aged 20 to 29, it’s 36.5%, and 30 to 39, it’s 53.5%.

Jab coverage rises with age; those aged 40-49, 50-59 and 60-69 have vaccination rates of 73.4%, 72.3% and 82.2%, respectively.

Some 91.7% aged 70 to 79 have been vaccinated, while the rate for over 80s stands at 92.2%.

Cyprus has vaccinated almost 64.6% of the eligible population with at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 50.2% are fully jabbed.