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Greece Warned Over Dangerous COVID-19 and Influenza Mix

Covid-19 Influenza Greece
A leading expert is warning about the coexistence of Covid-19 and influenza in Greece. Credit: AMNA

A leading Greek expert warned that the combination of COVID-19 and influenza could prove dangerous for Greece in the months of October and November.

“The co-existence of influenza and COVID-19 is something that causes serious concern [for] scientists,” said Ghikas Magiorkinis, member of the novel coronavirus experts committee in Greece.

“It is difficult to make an estimation of what will happen to the National Health System, but certainly the pressure expected in the months of October and November is something that worries us, as this year influenza made its appearance two months earlier,” he said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA).

According to Magiorkinis, the population, and especially most of those below fifty, are not vaccinated against influenza and were not exposed to the virus in the last two years.

Hence, as the population’s immunity is significantly lower and the virus’ flows are arriving earlier, we will see a surge in flu infections mostly in the younger population.

He also estimated that vaccination against influenza should begin earlier this year, but the big question is if there is the availability of updated influenza vaccines in the market.

The Greek expert, who is an assistant professor of Epidemiology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, also said that over fifty percent of the population was infected this summer with the prevailing subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of Omicron.

He explained that the specific strains were pyrogenic. Namely, they have stronger immunological responses than the subvariants BA.1 and BA.2 of Omicron, “so we believe that the immunity created will be higher but we have to see it in practice.”

Updated COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in Greece in October

The first updated vaccines for COVID-19 targeting the subvariant BA.1 of Omicron was recently approved by the Εuropean Medicines Agency (EMA). According to EMA, the new vaccines will be used for people over twelve years of age that have already been vaccinated at least once against COVID-19.

In Greece, the updated vaccines are expected to arrive next month, and the National Vaccinations Committee will issue instructions on the vaccination procedure.

EMA will also issue its consultation on the vaccines against Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 in the following weeks.

“Τhe specific pandemic will not be eradicated, [and] the coronavirus will not disappear,” Magiorkinis added. “When we say that the pandemic is over we mean that we will pass to a co-existence phase with the virus.”

He did not exclude the possibility of a new mutation in the following month, adding that the pandemic is gradually settling down with the establishment of cross-immunity through vaccines and contaminations.

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