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“Land of Whatever”: Greece’s authorities bemused about 4. dose for 30-59

Greece’s health authorities triggered a big confusion on Thursday afternoon, when they announced people as young as 30 years old could be administered the 4th dose (2nd booster shot) of vaccination against Covid-19.

First it was the National Vaccination Committee that announced its decision to allow the 4th dose for those aged 30-59.

Appointments for a second booster shot for coronavirus will be available as of Monday (June 27, 2022) for the 30-59 age group on a voluntary basis, the Committee said in its statement.

It reiterated its “strong recommendation” that those over 60 years of age get a second booster shot.

The statement, however, added also a “small bomb”:

  • “Currently there is not enough scientific data for the additional benefit of the 2nd booster shot with the existing vaccines.”

The immediate reaction by all reading the statement was: If there is not enough scientific data for the benefit, then why should people aged 30-59 get a 4th dose?”

Some journalist like the presenter of TV news magazine MegaLiveNews said Live that those who wrote this statement should be “ashamed” and asked “whether the purpose of the 4th dose for 30-59 was to make pharma companies richer.”

Some others, KTG incl, recalled  reports on recent bargain between the EU and the vaccine producing companies with the first to ask the latter to amend their original supply agreement for delivery of booster shots due to decreased demand.

Prompt was the intervention of Deputy Heath Minister, Mina Gaga, who spoke to MegatLiveNews stressing that she, as a doctor, would not recommend the 4th dose to someone whose age does not requires for it, unless the person is very scared of Covid-19..

Distancing herself form the Vaccination Committee, Minister Gaga said addressing the magazine presenter in his early 50’s. “If I were you, I wouldn’t receive the vaccine. If you tell me your are scared, I’ll tell you go get it!”

However, she claims also that the Vaccination Committee does not recommend the 4th dose to those below 60 years old without health issues.

Much later, members of the National Vaccination Committee spoke to other TV channels and justified their controversial decision saying that they had been receiving messages from people as young as 30, young and healthy, who wanted to get the 4th dose for their own reasons. Either because they wanted to travel or because they had vulnerable groups at home, or because it had been a long time since they took the 3rd dose, etc.

“So the vaccination committee made this suggestion so that whoever wants, can do the 4th dose of vaccine in the summer, since the platform opens on Monday,” reported OPEN TV..

“The commission said that while vaccines do not catch the Omicron sub-variants, they do protect against severe coronavirus disease,” so OPEN.

Other health experts added their own sauce, some agreed with Gaga and disagreed with the Committee, some called to comment refrained to evaluate the situation and just informed the public when and for whom the platform opens.

Fact is that the 4th dose is optional for the group age 30-59, also for those over 60, even though there is a strong recommendation. (details on KTG post earlier on Thursday.)

So if you decided for the 4th dose: the platform for appointment opens on June 27 and here is the link emvolio.gov.gr for the platform.

Several written and verbal statements later all I can say is: another chapter of the usual tragicomedy in Land of Whatever was concluded today.

Don’t forget our POLL!

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7 comments

  1. thank you KTG for always keeping us so well informed. i have to say that i’m hesitant: 67 years old and a heart attack, so a good client for a 4th dose. but i’ve been hearing for some time about the distribution, possibly from september onwards, of an RNAm vaccine (pfizer) better adapted to the omicron coronavirus and its variants. in fact, i had made an appointment last week for the 4th dose (=the 2nd booster), and then i gave it up: if this new vaccine formula comes out in september, i want to get vaccinated – but on the other hand, i don’t want to get vaccinated every 3 months. So I didn’t put away the masks or the hydro-alcoholic gels, ready to go “wild” this summer, like the 2 previous summers, waiting for the autumn. I don’t know if it’s a mistake or not….

  2. People want simple black and white answers but medical science is rarely black and white. Even physics isn’t as black and white as most people think it is and medical science is a long way from physics.

    1 The vaccines work best on variants that are genetically closest to the variant that they were designed to protect against, i.e. the Original Wuhan variant. Not a big surprise.
    2 The vaccines help to protect against serious illness more than they protect against catching the disease. That is what they were designed to do.
    3 As variants evolve they have tended to become more contagious but tend to cause severe illness in a smaller percentage of the population. A pretty normal evolutionary path for viruses.
    4 The risk of becoming seriously ill and dying increases markedly with age. Below 10 the risk is negligible. As a 76 year old male my risk was over 10 % with early variants, reduced to about 1 % by vaccination.
    5 In any geographical area, certain variants will be dominant in the population but all other variants will still be present. Therefore, the risk of catching a later less severe variant is highest but the risk of catching an earlier more severe variant is not zero.
    6 The risk of becoming seriously ill is increased by a wide range of co-morbidities but the amount that the risk is increased depends on the seriousness of the co-morbidity.
    7 The protection given by a vaccine decreases with time, although the rate of decline is not accurately known.

    Given all those factors, deciding on a simple rule such as age group A gets a 4th dose and age group B doesn’t is extremely difficult so it is not surprising that there will be disagreement.

    • Dear Warwick, I have a question for you, as you seem to know a lot of the vaccines and their protection power. I live in Belgium, Flanders region. Every Friday, the public health authorities here publish a 70p document containing all the statistics of the Corona-disease. I just had a look at the most recent one from last week, June 17. It appears that during the last 14 days, there were 55 people in Flanders that were sent to Intensive Care because of Covid. 50 of them (91%) got the booster shot, 3 of them only got 2 doses of basic vaccination, and 2 were completely unvaccinated. These percentages are similar to this, since mid-March already. This while in this region, 78% of the people got the booster, around 12% got 2 vaccinations and 10% is unvaccinated. According to me, if you are sent to the ICU, you are seriously ill, right? So my question to you is: how do you know that vaccines protect one against getting seriously ill? (because the information in the Flemish report is contradictory to that). I could send you the link to the report, but (1) I don’t think that KTG allows to post links (KTG, please let me know if this is not true) and (2) it’s in dutch (although, numbers are numbers :-))

      • keeptalkinggreece

        its true. From what I know so far: People with weak immune system due to health issues & elderlydo not develop strong immunity as others do. Some, healthy ones, also get infected if got the virus before or short after vax. Immunity develops in some 14 days. Usually in states’ reports some data are missing so we, no virologists etc, can not make a clue. Just speculate. This must answer all your questions to Warw.

        This vax/immunity/ICU/death has been dealt with several times since the vaccines came out (and it’s kind of challenging to have again and again Q&A comments on the issue.
        Thank you.

      • I don’t think you can draw conclusions from such overall figures, you would need to separate out by demographics.

        The vaccination rate is highest amongst the elderly, both in percentage vaccinated at all and with booster shots. Groups with low rates of vaccination and/or lack of boosters are mostly the young. At the same time the risk factor for serious illness and/or death increases rapidly with age in a sort of hockey stick curve, actually pretty much log-linear. The vaccines reduce the risk of serious illness and/or death but they don’t eliminate it. The risk reduction was about a factor 10 for earlier variants but will almost certainly be less for later more mutated variants.

        When you combine all the above factors you expect the number of seriously ill people, e.g. in ICU to still come from the most elderly and hence more of them will have received vaccines. To do a comparison you need to take the same demographic group and separate out those who have been vaccinated from those that haven’t and compare the risk levels of the two sub-groups.

        • OK Warwick, some additional information from the same report. Age group 18-64: 18 submissions to ICU (15 boostered, 2 basic vaccination, 1 unvaxed); Age group 65-84: 30 submissions (28 boostered, 1 basic, 1 unvaxed); Age group 85+: 7 submissions (all boostered)

  3. The ministry is being accurate in it statement. It is only a “bomb” if you have not kept up with the studies and trials on vaccine efficacy.

    There is NO evidence of efficacy of a 4th dose of vaccine.

    The EUCDC has not recommended an additional booster, based on the same issue: there is no evidence of benefit.

    The ministry is accurately reporting current facts.

    You are receiving a booster shot of a vaccine that was designed and approved to work against the original Wuhan wild-type B.0 Variant from early 2020.

    This is a variant that is no longer in circulation. It has not been in circulation for 12+ months.

    Current variants BA4 and BA5 show no impact from the existing vaccines.