Greece proposed to the European Union on Wednesday that the Covid-19 booster shot be made “a condition of safe travel within the European Union for European citizens above 60 years old.”
The proposal was included in a letter sent by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Mitsotakis also called for this to be “reflected in the European digital certificate” for Covid.
In his letter regarding the booster shot, the Greek Premier noted the resurgence of Covid infections throughout Europe, attributing this to the more infectious delta variant and waning immunity of vaccines administered months earlier.
Booster shot is “90 percent effective,” Greece’s PM says
He also stressed that a third dose of the vaccine has been shown to be 90 percent effective at protecting people from severe Covid-related outcomes, including death.
“I believe time should not be wasted in order to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens,” he said, and while acknowledging “variance between member states” in their programs for the third dose, he said that this will “protect against symptomatic infection and keep our citizens healthy and out of hospitals.”
Noting that the scientific evidence suggests that a booster shot is strongly recommended for people of older ages, Mitsotakis proposed that a third dose be made a condition of travel for those over 60 years old and “reflected in the delegated act concerning the validity period of the European digital certificate which the Commission is planning to adopt and in the Council Recommendations 1475/20 and 912/20 concerning travel in the EU.”
The letter follows the warning by the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, who said on Tuesday that the continent is facing a grim outlook for the future of the Covid-19 pandemic.
WHO Europe expects 700,000 more people to die with the coronavirus across 53 countries within the coming months.
“Today, the COVID-19 situation across Europe and Central Asia is very serious. We face a challenging winter ahead, but we should not be without hope, because all of us — governments, health authorities, individuals — can take decisive action to stabilize the pandemic,” Kluge said in a statement.
“We can expect that there will be high or extreme stress on hospital beds in 25 countries, and high or extreme stress in intensive care units (ICUs) in 49 out of 53 countries between now and 1 March 2022,” read a statement issued by WHO Europe. “Cumulative reported deaths are projected to reach over 2.2 million by spring next year, based on current trends.”
The current surge across Europe has instigated a new series of lockdown measures and vaccine mandates, including those having to do with the booster shot, across the continent. Austria initiated a national lockdown last Friday as France’s Industry Minister Agnes Panniere-Runacher also announced recently that they were “very cautiously” watching the continent’s climbing Covid-19 infection rates.