Update – 17/03/2022
March 17, 2022
March 17, 2022
As of the latest update by the Greek authorities, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosed cases in Greece 2,708,610. 44 new deaths were reported raising the total number to 26,730. The number of patients treated in intensive care units is currently 354. 23,748 new cases were announced yesterday in Greece. 8,013 of the new cases were found in the Attica region and 2,446 new cases in the Thessaloniki region.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech asked US regulators Tuesday to authorize an additional booster dose of their Covid-19 vaccine for seniors, saying data from Israel suggests older adults would benefit.
Currently the US urges two primary shots followed months later by a booster dose for everyone age 12 and older. The new application seeks to add a fourth shot only for the over-65 population that has been hit hardest by the pandemic.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control would have to approve the request. If so, a key question would be how soon seniors would be advised to roll up their sleeves.
While authorities say the vaccinations continue to offer strong protection against severe illness, they haven’t held up as well against milder infections especially those due to the omicron mutant. With Covid-19 cases finally plummeting after the intense omicron surge, public health experts are starting to look ahead to what next steps might be needed – if a new variant crops up or, barring that, whether to try shoring up coronavirus protection in the fall at the same time people get flu vaccinations.
Speaking to CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla signaled the company’s plans.
“The protection that you are getting from the third, it is good enough, actually quite good for hospitalizations and deaths. It’s not that good against infections,” he said. “But we are just submitting those data to the FDA and then we will see what the experts also will say outside Pfizer.”
The US booster campaign was based on evidence that the shots’ effectiveness, particularly against milder infections, was waning about six months after the last dose. Calls for a third shot grew once it became clear the vaccines weren’t as strong against the omicron mutant as they were against earlier versions of the virus.
Many scientists say the ultimate goal of vaccination is to prevent severe illness, not mild infections, and early CDC data show the shots still are doing a good job at that. During the omicron wave, effectiveness against hospitalization was 91% in people who had gotten their booster two months earlier, and 78% by the fourth month after that booster.
Pfizer based its new application on data from Israel, which already was offering a second booster to people age 60 and older and health care workers.
While some early data left unclear just how much benefit another shot offered – or for how long – Pfizer said Tuesday that an analysis of health records of more than 1.1 million Israeli seniors showed confirmed infections were two times lower and rates of severe illness were four times lower among those who got two boosters instead of just one.
Pfizer also cited an ongoing study of healthcare workers that tracked a jump in virus-fighting antibodies after getting the additional booster.
In the US so far, a fourth dose is recommended only for people with severely weakened immune systems, who need three doses to begin with for the best chance at any protection.
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, will visit Athens on Thursday to meet with Health Minister Thanos Plevris and discuss the continuing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the support for neighboring countries and the preparation of the healthcare systems for the reception of people that need medical support.
“We continue to see millions of people leaving Ukraine. Many of those refugees are ill, vulnerable, men, women and children, as well as people suffering from cancer. The European solidarity shone from the start (of the war),” she said.
They will also discuss the course of the vaccinations against Covid-19 in Greece and the overall management of the pandemic, as well as the future course of the proposals in the context of European Health Union. Kyriakides will also open the second Economist Cancer Summit Greece and will present the European plan against cancer.
Kyriakides also said that she is looking forward to discussing healthcare conditions in Greece and how to improve health and prosperity of the refugees in the EU.
In more detail, the 23,748 new cases detected per Regional Unit: