The head of Cyprus’ government team for pandemic response says it is time for measures to evolve, calling for frequent rapid tests to apply to vaccinated people as well amid reports that many who get the jab tend to play down symptoms and carry on normally due to a false sense of security.
Constantinos Tsioutis, who heads a task force of health experts advising the government on the pandemic, went public this week with his concerns over the effectiveness of current measures amid concerns the coronavirus was still being spread despite vaccination strategies and Safe Pass restrictions.
Old measures need to be updated
Tsioutis, who was a guest on a local radio program, said current measures had been decided back in May but it was time to be updated because situations have changed both in Cyprus and abroad.
The expert made the comments one day before Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela was expected to propose extending current measures during a Cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday.
Hadjipantela said he wanted to see more people getting vaccinated while the current proposal also calls for booster shots for persons over 50 at least six months after having received their second dose as well as people who are severely obese with no age limit.
Tsioutis said it was not an effective strategy to target the unvaccinated, saying people have made up their minds and we cannot change that unless something new happens
But Tsioutis said it was not an effective strategy to target the unvaccinated, saying people have made up their minds and we cannot change that unless something new happens.
The expert took issue with how people viewed vaccination, suggesting that walking into a supermarket while wearing a face mask was a much more effective measure against the spread of the coronavirus than vaccinated people who don’t get tested for the bug.
Recent reports said people with symptoms who got vaccinated failed to report they were sick or get tested because they had an immunization record, while experts have cautioned that some people who got the jab may not be protected.
“Everyone resumed their social activities, going to parties, going out, but all of this can have consequences,” Tsioutis said.
Earlier in the summer Tsioutis, an advocate for vaccinations, responded to criticism over the government’s Safe Pass measures being too strict for the unvaccinated, including those who had recovered from the bug, with the expert clarifying that the role of his team was not to justify political decisions.
False sense of security after vaccine
But on Wednesday the expert went on to argue there was a false sense of security if people felt safe simply by counting on the unvaccinated having to take rapid tests before going to the supermarket.
“So do we feel safe because the 18% takes a test but the 82% doesn’t have to get tested before going anywhere?” the expert wondered.
“But this is because the others in the 82% are vaccinated,” the radio host said.
“But isn’t this is a false sense of security?” Tsioutis replied.
He went on to explain that even the vaccinated can get sick and transmit the virus, noting that while chances were lower for the jabbed group the risk was still there because they are greater in numbers.
Health Ministry spokesperson Margarita Kyriakou was asked Thursday to comment on Tsioutis’ remarks, with the official saying the Cabinet would meet to discuss extending current measures through early December.
But Kyriacou said the government did not want to have to face another lockdown because “the state cannot afford it.”
The official acknowledged more strict measures had been discussed but made clear they needed more time to monitor the situation before making those decisions.
“We had an increase in confirmed cases and in a few days we expect that this could translate into more hospitalizations,” Kyriacou said, adding more will be known in a few days.
COVID cases rose in recent days in the Republic of Cyprus, with Monday seeing 280 new confirmed cases, the highest daily reading in the last few months, followed by 245 on Tuesday and 188 on Wednesday.