His concern regarding the course of the pandemic in Thessaloniki and in several regional units of Northern Greece, where the vaccination coverage was only 40-45%, is expressed by Associate Professor of Epidemiology – Preventive Medicine of EKPA and member of the Committee of Experts of the Ministry. .
In an interview with the Fm Agency and in the show of Tania H. Mantouvalos “104.9 HEALTH SECRETS” characterizes the period we are going through as transitional, because although there has been a downward trend for several weeks in several parts of the country, an outbreak of cases is expected in the coming period.
The professor estimates that things will be more difficult during the period of this Autumn and Winter. However, as he says, the measures of the current period concern a restriction, or a very high control in those who are not vaccinated. “A strategy different from last year when we did not have vaccines available and we were forced to implement strict restrictive measures for the entire population. We hope that these measures will be satisfactory to the extent that they will be observed by the society and will be supervised by the competent bodies “.
In the event of a new lockdown, he replies that it will be a last resort. “I am not able to predict whether and to what extent there will be a need to implement it, because it will depend on many parameters. Whether such a measure will need to be implemented is also a political decision. “Whether and to what extent the economy or other aspects of society and the state allow us to implement such a measure.”
As for which vaccine regimen will prevail in the long run, Mr. Paraskevi says that scientists expect to see the results of the protection provided by the third dose, so that it can be decided whether a fourth or something further is needed. For the second generation vaccines, it is explained that they are currently in clinical trials and may be available even at the end of the year.
Asked how he thinks he can convince men in their 60s who, unlike other European countries, have not largely preferred the vaccine, he said it would be helpful to organize events to answer these people’s questions. And he proposes to carry out analyzes, to let scientists know the qualitative characteristics of the population by regional unit, so that they can target their actions and information.
“Certainly the coronavirus will become a mild disease when we all develop immunity, either through vaccine or through disease. What is needed, of course, is to develop immunity through the vaccine and not through exposure to the virus, because that is very dangerous. This will possibly happen in a period of a year or a little more “, Mr. Paraskevi answers when asked when we will get rid of the pandemic.
The following is the full interview of D. Paraskevi:
Q: How do you assess the course of the pandemic at this stage with the opening of schools, the full return of holidaymakers and the Delta mutation? What do your epidemiological models say about this Autumn and how will we get into Winter?
A: We are in a transitional situation. That is, we have a downward trend for a few weeks now, due to the fact that holidaymakers have returned and therefore there are no phenomena of relaxation during the summer months and holidays, but on the other hand we estimate that we will have an outbreak in the coming period, due to the fact that we will spend more time indoors. It is also worrying that in several regional units, mainly in Northern Greece, the need for vaccination coverage is less than some others, it is a relatively low order of 40 and 45%. And it is the regional units, in which an outbreak has already been observed, nevertheless we are in the month of September and the climatic conditions are perfect that have not significantly increased the infectivity of the virus.
Q: Does Thessaloniki scare you? The first primary school classes have already closed.
A: There is the following peculiarity: because it is a metropolitan municipality and an area that covers both the neighboring prefectures and the neighboring regional units, I would say that Yes, the situation is worrying, given the low vaccination coverage mentioned above by the other regional units, neighboring in the area of Thessaloniki. The number of cases in proportion to the population is relatively increased, there is an increasing trend in recent times and which has increased and hospitalizations in ICUs. And due to the fact that as a metropolitan municipality it provides health care in the other prefectures, the situation realizes that it carries several risks and we should be very careful.
Q: The society and the economy will not close again has the account from the government in the direction and from the prime minister himself from the TIF. Is such a thing possible in practice, when the occupancy in the ICU already exceeds 70%, the vaccination coverage is only 56.7% (according to the latest information of the ministry) the Delta mutation has brought a little upside down, and even the temperatures allow a lot of outdoor activities.
A: Certainly the situation will be more difficult during the Autumn and Winter seasons. We will certainly have an increased trend in cases and the measures that have been announced so far, take into account the fact that there is a more important element of vaccinations in the country. Vaccinated people have a much lower risk of becoming infected, but have a much lower risk of almost no serious illness. The measures of this time period concern restriction or very increased control in those who are not vaccinated. A strategy different from the previous year when we did not have vaccines available and we were forced to implement strict restrictive measures for the entire population. And we hope that these measures will be satisfactory insofar as they will be observed by the society and will be supervised by the competent bodies.
Q: Do you see a new lockdown?
Q: The lockdown will be a last resort. Whether and to what extent there will be a need to implement it I am not able to predict, because it will depend on too many parameters. Whether such a measure will need to be implemented is also a political decision. Whether and to what extent the economy or other aspects of society and the state allow us to implement such a measure.
Q: And what happens after the third dose of the vaccine? Vaccination every six months? Although we have heard from Mr. Themistocleous that the third dose is optional, the scheme of the three doses will prevail, consider from now on, like the flu vaccine that we do every year, for example;
A: At the moment what we know to be for people over 60 and the rest of the vulnerable groups, a booster dose is needed to develop the immunity that provided the initial dosage. However, we will see, examine and study the immunity offered by the booster dose, and if necessary, an additional booster dose will be given, after some time. It is something we can not predict, but we will report to see the results in relation to the protection provided by the third dose, so that it can be decided whether a fourth or something further is needed.
Q: What are second-generation vaccines that are traditionally considered to be better than the first? When do we expect second generation vaccines for Covid?
A: Your second generation vaccines are the vaccines that have been updated, in terms of the circulating mutant strains and will be more effective, for the strains that we know dominate. They are currently in clinical trials and we believe they will be available soon.
Q: When you say soon do you mean within the year or a little later?
A: This is something I also can not predict, but I imagine the space will be relatively limited. It may be available later this year.
Q: Can mutations shake existing vaccines? We read during the week about a new variant of Covid with increased resistance to antibodies detected in a nursing home in Kentucky, USA, and it has already infected 45 elderly people and workers. The stem comes from Japan.
A: To date, our experience has shown that mutations cannot completely invalidate the immunity provided by the vaccine. But what can happen is that they provide lower rates of immunity, especially in older people, and that is probably the reason why the inmates at the nursing home we mentioned were sick, because they may have been vaccinated a long time ago. In this direction the booster dose will help significantly. That is why there are already data from Israel that immunity is significantly strengthened.
Q: Delta mutation is preferred by children, why do we read that there is a high transmissibility at these ages?
A: We need to clarify this. It’s something that does not apply. The Delta mutant prefers the unvaccinated. And because a large percentage of children are unvaccinated, this is why most cases occur in young people.
Q: How likely is it that a person will get sick twice?
A: It is not very likely because a person is infected and has recovered from the coronavirus, has developed satisfactory immunity and even if a dose of the vaccine has not been given, the immunity which is even stronger. For this reason, we know from existing data that recurrence in either recovering or vaccinated individuals is not very common and the risk of serious disease is very low.
Q: How do you think it is possible to convince men in their 60s who, unlike other European countries, have not greatly preferred the vaccine?
A: I think it would be useful to organize events that did not answer the questions of these people, to carry out analyzes, to know the quality characteristics of the population by regional unit, so as to target our actions and information. And why not target the support of these people to try to tell them that the vaccine is for their own good, for the prevention of their health.
Q: When do you think we will get rid of the coronavirus? The views of scientists are conflicting. In fact, a recent Bloomberg report cites studies that have not yet been published and argue that the coronavirus does not want to become completely resistant to the first generation of vaccines.
A: Certainly the coronavirus will become a mild disease when we all develop immunity, either through vaccine or through disease. What is needed, of course, is to develop immunity through the vaccine and not through exposure to the virus, because that is very dangerous. This is likely to happen over the course of a year or so. The virus has not become resistant to vaccines. What we do know is that it has secured immunity in older people who have been vaccinated relatively early. The sooner we reach a critical new immunity, the sooner we will get rid of the virus, as some countries have already done, characterizing it as a mild disease.