The possibility of a fourth dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 will be discussed towards September, while it is expected that discussions will start in May on the virus being classed as an endemic one, Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Virology at the University of Nicosia Medical School, Dr Petros Karayiannis, told CNA.
At the same time, Dr Karayiannis, who is also a member of the Health Ministry’s Advisory Scientific Committee on coronavirus, said that, at the moment, there is uncertainty on the outcome of the Omicron variant, noting that Cyprus will proceed for the time being with caution and slight relaxation of measures.
Invited to comment on the decision many countries took to relax restrictions amidst hope that the peak of the Omicron wave has passed, he said it is a bit risky to proceed in Cyprus with “bold measures” like the ones other European countries have taken. He pointed out that one must wait and see the impact, if any, of these relaxations in these countries.
On whether Cyprus has achieved immunity through the high vaccination coverage of the population but also the large number of people who have had the virus, he said, that to be in a position to say there is a level of immunity in the community, it depends on when someone was vaccinated. He noted that “over time, the immunity we are talking about will slowly go away and that is why it will be necessary to renew it from time to time.”
Dr Karayiannis also stressed that though the vaccination coverage in Cyprus is high, the transmission of the virus is also high. He explained that under these conditions the virus can find ways to mutate, adding that “the situation is very fluid.”
Responding to another question, he said that, it seems, things are headed towards annual vaccinations against Covid-19 since it is expected that discussion on the matter will start soon.
On the possibility of a fourth dose, the professor said they have decided to wait until summer since, for now, the variants that exist in Cyprus are not particularly dangerous.
“We will wait until the summer to see how things turn out and if something new emerges or depending on what happens, decisions will be made for the winter, which is also what happens with the flu,” he added.
He also said that discussions about classing the virus as an endemic one will start by May, but this, however, will depend on what will happen in the countries where the vaccination coverage is low, but also in the countries that have now relaxed their measures.
Asked to explain what the transition of a pandemic to an endemic means in practice, Professor Karayiannis reiterated that “this virus is here to stay.” If the virus becomes an endemic one, he said, it will be in a form that will not be so aggressive, but will make its presence at a time when it is convenient to transmit, usually in the winter months, meaning it will not be transmitted continuously, like now that it afflicts the world year-round.