COVID19: Scientists want booster dose for the elderly

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Scientists concerned over the rising number of COVID-19 cases among the elderly want health authorities to introduce a booster shot for vulnerable groups jabbed in December and January.

On Tuesday, Cyprus announced another six COVID deaths involving older people aged 67 to 86, pushing the total number of deaths to 410 and the average age to 77.3.

The record for daily deaths recorded in Cyprus was seven, reported on May 3.

Talking to the Financial Mirror, virologist and government advisor on COVID-19, Dr Peter Karayiannis confirmed that scientists recommend a third booster shot for the elderly.

Karayiannis said: “If measures are not taken, we could see deaths amongst the elderly increase significantly, as it appears we may need to boost the protection of the more vulnerable population with a third shot”.

In recent days the number of elderly COVID-19 patients needing hospitalisation has increased significantly with a resurgence of cases in nursing homes.

According to the Organisation of State Health Services (OKYPY), on July 8, a total of 16 patients aged over 70 were hospitalised.

Of those, 12 patients were aged 71-80, three patients 81-90 and one patient was over 91.

The percentage of vaccinated and unvaccinated elderly in hospitals is equally split 50% -50%.

OKYPY recorded on July 25 a total of 52 patients over 70 years old in the hospital; the majority, 65% (32 patients), were aged 80 or under.

The median age of the patients on July 18 was 53.8 years; a week later, it rose to 56.77; however, most patients are in the 40-60 age group.

Karayiannis said the number of cases involving older people would continue to rise, with some dying even though vaccinated.

“The problem lies with the fact the elderly have a weaker immune system, which means that some vaccinated people will have issues when they come into contact with the virus.”

“This does not mean that vaccines don’t work.

“Even if we accept that 50% of elderly hospital patients are vaccinated, this does not mean that 50% of all vaccinated older people are at risk of dying.

“We must keep in mind that the majority of these groups, more than 90%, have been fully vaccinated and don’t get sick,” said Karayiannis.

The virologist said that if 50% of 20 elderly hospital patients in the hospital are vaccinated, it only represents 10 from a population group of 100,000 people (70+).

“To put it in a nutshell, we need to boost the protection of our elderly and vulnerable groups.

“Yes, this means the third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“But, most importantly, we need to increase the immunity wall around them by increasing the number of vaccinated people.”