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Update – 31/01/2022

corona virus

As of the latest update by the Greek authorities, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosed cases in Greece 1,920,992. 97 new deaths were reported raising the total number to 23,372. The number of patients treated in intensive care units is currently 571. 11,124 new cases were announced yesterday in Greece. 3,587 of the new cases were found in the Attica region and 1,283 new cases in the Thessaloniki region.

With 2,405 deaths from Covid-19 by Friday, January 28, this month could well become the pandemic’s deadliest, surpassing December 2021’s 2,633 fatalities. It will certainly top the 2,432 deaths registered in December 2020, so far the second-most in a month since the pandemic hit Greece in March 2020.

Experts say the deaths are still mostly due to the Delta variant of the disease, but also warn that Omicron, while milder than Delta, is not exactly “mild,” especially for the unvaccinated elderly with a history of other serious, or underlying diseases.

“The high number of Omicron cases will affect the high number of vulnerable population segments, especially if they are unvaccinated, and will lead to losses. This is why the very strong recommendation for a third dose of vaccination remains,” Charalambos Gogos, professor of pathology at Patra University Medical School, told Kathimerini.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the most common form of which is known as BA.1 – now accounts for nearly all of the coronavirus infections globally, although dramatic surges in Covid cases have already peaked in some countries.

Scientists are now tracking a rise in cases caused by a close cousin known as BA.2, which is starting to outcompete BA.1 in parts of Europe and Asia. The following is what we know so far about the new subvariant:

‘Stealth’ subvariant

Globally, BA.1 accounted for 98.8% of sequenced cases submitted to the public virus tracking database GISAID as of Jan. 25. But several countries are reporting recent increases in the subvariant known as BA.2, according to the World Health Organization.

In addition to BA.1 and BA.2, the WHO lists two other subvariants under the Omicron umbrella: BA.1.1.529 and BA.3. All are closely related genetically, but each features mutations that could alter how they behave.

Trevor Bedford, a computational virologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center who has been tracking the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, wrote on Twitter on Friday that BA.2 represents roughly 82% of cases in Denmark, 9% in the UK and 8% in the United States, based on his analysis of sequencing data from the GISAID database and case counts from the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.

The BA.1 version of Omicron has been somewhat easier to track than prior variants. That is because BA.1 is missing one of three target genes used in a common PCR test. Cases showing this pattern were assumed by default to be caused by BA.1.

BA.2, sometimes known as a “stealth” subvariant, does not have the same missing target gene. Instead, scientists are monitoring it the same way they have prior variants, including Delta, by tracking the number of virus genomes submitted to public databases such as GISAID.

As with other variants, an infection with BA.2 can be detected by coronavirus home tests kits, though they cannot indicate which variant is responsible, experts said.

More transmissible?

Some early reports indicate that BA.2 may be even more infectious than the already extremely contagious BA.1, but there is no evidence so far that it is more likely to evade vaccine protection.

Danish health officials estimate that BA.2 may be 1.5 times more transmissible than BA.1, based on preliminary data, though it likely does not cause more severe disease.

In England, a preliminary analysis of contact tracing from Dec. 27, 2021, through Jan. 11, 2022, by the UK Health Security Agency (HSA) suggests that household transmission is higher among contacts of people infected with BA.2 (13.4%) compared with other Omicron cases (10.3%).The HSA found no evidence of a difference in vaccine effectiveness, according to the January 28 report.

A critical question is whether people who were infected in the BA.1 wave will be protected from BA.2, said Dr Egon Ozer, an infectious disease expert at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

That has been a concern in Denmark, where some places that saw high case counts of BA.1 infections were reporting rising cases of BA.2, Ozer said.

If prior BA.1 infection does not protect against BA.2, “this could be sort of a two-humped camel kind of wave,” Ozer said. “It’s too early to know if that will happen.”

The good news, he said, is that vaccines and boosters still “keep people out of the hospital and keep people from dying.”

The distribution of antiviral pills for Covid-19 to high-risk citizens over the age of 18 will start next week with home deliveries, Alternate Health Minister Mina Gaga said Thursday, noting they will not be given to pregnant women.

The medication will be administered to patients with a positive rapid or PCR test.

She said the treating physician will submit the application and the committee for the administration of the medicine will respond within 24 hours. An SMS will then be sent to the doctor and the patient by the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY). Patients must give their consent for the drug on a special platform.

Vana Papaevangelou, the infectious disease expert on the committee advising the government on coronavirus policy, said the fact that many people stayed at home during the bad weather will lead to a drop in cases in the near future, noting there are 150,000 active cases at present.

In more detail, the 11,124 new cases detected per Regional Unit:

  • Attica 3,587
    • Eastern Attica 471
    • Northern Sector of Athens  488
    • West Attica 180
    • Western Sector of Athens 415
    • Central Sector of Athens 1,026
    • Southern Sector of Athens 407
    • Piraeus 525
    • Islands 75
  • Thessaloniki 1,283
  • Etoloakarnania 137
  • Andros 7
  • Argolida 75
  • Arcadia 82
  • Arta 74
  • Achaia 378
  • Boeotia 81
  • Grevena 7
  • Drama 95
  • Evros 267
  • Evia 174
  • Evritania 5
  • Zakynthos 71
  • Ilia 81
  • Imathia 81
  • Heraklion 493
  • Thassos 10
  • Thesprotia 47
  • Thira 42
  • Ithaca 1
  • Ikaria 1
  • Ioannina 173
  • Kavala 97
  • Kalymnos 32
  • Karditsa 68
  • Karpathos 6
  • Kastoria 46
  • Corfu 182
  • Kefalonia 51
  • Kilkis 32
  • Kozani 96
  • Corinth 174
  • Kos 64
  • Laconia 63
  • Larissa 256
  • Lasithi 83
  • Lesvos 135
  • Lefkada 45
  • Lemnos 34
  • Magnesia 167
  • Messinia 175
  • Milos 7
  • Mykonos 40
  • Naxos 34
  • Xanthi 133
  • Paros 8
  • Pella 112
  • Pieria 122
  • Preveza 61
  • Rethymno 136
  • Rodopi 155
  • Rhodes 187
  • Samos 35
  • Serres 79
  • Sporades 2
  • Syros 17
  • Tinos 20
  • Trikala 96
  • Fthiotida 87
  • Florina 22
  • Fokida 19
  • Chalkidiki 124
  • Chania 258
  • Chios 46
  • Under investigation 202

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