COVID19: Government slow to stem new outbreak

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Scientists advising authorities on handling coronavirus have criticised the government for being content with an 80% vaccination rate and taking no other measures to curb a new outbreak.

Lead scientist Dr Constantinos Tsioutis and a member of the advisory team on the vaccination rollout Dr Christos Petrou have said the government now makes medical decisions based on political criteria.

“They are not acting in a coordinated way, sufficing with moves to win popularity which do not offer results,” Petrou told Phileleftheros daily.

Tsioutis told the newspaper: “Some of us have stressed that we were heading for a new outbreak.

“Now the outbreak is happening. Although we cannot yet predetermine its size, we are obliged to table suggestions to protect the public health system and the citizens”.

He argued the government had not taken the new outbreak seriously.

“This time last year, we had 100 -150 cases a day, now we are at 200-250.

“Last year, at a time when we had the first three-digit numbers, everybody was panicking. Now no one cares, not even those who should be caring,” said Tsioutis.

“Almost one third (30%) of daily cases are fully vaccinated.

“Among patients, almost 40% are fully vaccinated.

“My conscience does not allow me to sit back and feel content that without the vaccines, we would have three times more deaths”.

Petrou, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, was also critical of the government’s vaccination strategy.

“The vaccination rollout has essentially come to a halt.

“They are more concerned over scoring points rather than coming up with coordinated measures that will bear fruit,” said Petrou.

He accused the government of cultivating the illusion that “we have defeated the pandemic”.

“It is not enough for the government to boast that 80% of adults are vaccinated.

“As you may have noticed, I have not been referring to the term ‘herd immunity’ for many months. However, with the appearance of the Delta variant, the term is pointless.

“Even if there was a specific vaccination rate for herd immunity for the Delta variant, it could not be calculated based on the percentage of vaccinated adults, but the total population.

“In Cyprus, in terms of the total population, we are only at 67%.”

Petrou said health authorities should be carrying out a study on the effectiveness of vaccination in Cyprus for scientists to have all the necessary data to advise the government on the next steps.

The total of SARS-CoV-2 infections since March 2020 is 126,497 and 576 deaths.

A year ago (November 10, 2020), Cyprus confirmed 6,296 cases and 32 deaths.