Even though daily coronavirus infections seem to be stabilising, widening vaccination coverage is key to avoiding a difficult September, member of the advisory team on coronavirus Petros Karayiannis said on Wednesday.
The Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Virology at the University of Nicosia Medical School told the Cyprus News Agency that the situation remains stable with around 400 cases daily, but said he hoped the numbers are representative, since not many tests were carried out during the August 15 weekend.
“The situation is as real as it could be under the circumstances at the moment. We may be missing a few positive cases, but this does not show in the admissions, although serious hospitalisations, especially intubations, remain high,” he said.
Asked whether September will be a difficult month, he said that as the Delta variant is highly infectious indoors, it will create a huge problem if the unvaccinated outnumber the vaccinated. “We have been saying this for a while,” he said.
Karayiannis also said he was confident the higher vaccination coverage will prevent Cyprus from surpassing 1,000 cases in autumn.
“We are seeing its effects right now. When we reached 1,165 cases, we managed to gradually decrease infections through a combination of measures like the SafePass, and an increase in vaccinations.”
By September, we might have reached an 85 per cent vaccination rate, he added. “Our national vaccination coverage is increasing day by day, and we are hoping this will disrupt the transmission of the virus”.
As regards breakthrough infections among vaccinated members of the public, he said experts are still not sure what they can be attributed to.
“This is why we suggest that both vaccinated and unvaccinated members of the population continue using personal protection measures, particularly face masks, which create an extra barrier for the virus”.
Karayiannis added that the measures recently announced for schools and universities are a step in the right direction, noting that discussions are still ongoing until an effective solution is reached, especially considering vaccines have not been approved for under-12s.
He also said he agrees with the requirement for unvaccinated university students to take PCR tests, because rapid tests could present false negatives in the early stages of infection.
In contrast, a PCR will be able to detect the virus earlier, while at its most infectious.
Karayiannis also said that a third booster shot will most probably be needed, at least for the elderly who got their jabs first and other vulnerable groups, especially the immunocompromised.
He finally said that despite other nations like Israel and the UK announcing they will introduce booster shots to the public, the government is still waiting for international health organisations to issue formal recommendations before making a decision.