Reports indicate that the protocol for fully vaccinated persons may change, as they currently do not have to isolate – or even take a coronavirus test – if they are a close contact of a person confirmed positive.
That policy dates back to mid-April 2021, when the health ministry declared that the 14-day isolation period for close contacts no longer applied to fully vaccinated persons.
Multiple sources confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that the government’s advisory team have had ‘early’ discussions on the issue, with initial proposals seeking the isolation of contacts who are vaccinated until they test negative.
The health ministry’s press office confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that discussions are underway to change the protocol but did not elaborate further.
Since the protocol was revised in April, the effectiveness of the vaccines as regards the prevention of being infected by Sars-CoV-2 has been proven to decline.
Another factor to have further complicated matters is the emergence of the Delta variant.
Effectiveness against infections in fully vaccinated persons declined from 88 per cent during the first month of vaccination to 47 per cent after five months, according to a study published in The Lancet in October.
The study also stated that: “Reduction in vaccine effectiveness against Sars-CoV-2 infections over time is probably primarily due to waning immunity with time rather than the Delta variant escaping vaccine protection.”
An early signal was when the US CDC reversed its indoor mask policy in July – calling for fully vaccinated persons to once again wear masks, after having initially stated that it was no longer necessary.
Petros Karayiannis, member of the government’s coronavirus advisory committee, told the Cyprus Mail that it is by no means guaranteed that the protocol will change but that Omicron has altered the equation.
“The reason is because of Omicron, because it appears to infect immunised people – particularly those who only had two doses of the vaccine,” he told the Cyprus Mail on Thursday.
“From the studies that are coming out it has been showed that the vaccines are less effective in dealing with [Omicron] infection,” he said.
With 65.7 per cent of the total Cypriot population fully vaccinated as of December 3 according to the covid19.ucy.ac.cy website, a significant number of those declared as close contacts are not legally required to self-isolate or even take a Covid-19 test – even though they can get infected and spread the virus. Of the adult population, 81.35 per cent are fully vaccinated.