Most people hoped that over time – and given scientific progress, vaccines, and medicines that are being developed – the pandemic would be checked and become an endemic seasonal disease like the flu.
Yet, a series of factors and conditions, in Greece and around the world, dashed those hopes.
Vaccination was not massive, as conditions all over the planet mandated, and the wide circle of conspiracy theorists and vaccine deniers did not permit the full vaccination of citizens even in developed Western countries.
Hence, almost everywhere there was room for mutations of the virus to flower and the cycle of the pandemic was extended.
The Delta variant proved to be very transmissible and able to penetrate even vaccinated populations, as immunity from vaccines receded over time, exposing especially elderly people and vulnerable groups with underlying medical conditions to new dangers.
Europe in particular has a surge in the pandemic as winter approaches and projections are ominous.
The case of the new, threatening mutation of the virus that was detected in Botswana and is currently being studied by the WHO is characteristic.
The Omicron variant found fertile ground to evolve and grow in a country that is insufficiently vaccinated and in people who are immunosuppressed or suffer from severe chronic illnesses.
The resulting concerns are such that there was global alarm and stock markets everywhere plunged on Friday.
Consequently, two years after the appearance of COVID-19, the virus remains active and threatening. The number of infections is growing. Hospitals are exceedingly burdened and the number of deaths is growing, shaking the trust of citizens in the health system and official health policies.
The common conviction among doctors and scientists is that the pandemic will last not just one or two months, but rather will be with us for a long time. For now, nobody knows how long it will last.
Let us not deceive ourselves, we are a long way from making the pandemic easily manageable and bringing it absolutely under control.
That means we shall remain exposed for an unknown time span to the aggressive tendencies of the coronavirus, with an enormous impact on hospitalisation, the endurance of the National Health System, and the health of citizens in general.
Given the fact that everyone can understand that for economic, social, and other reasons, it is unfeasible for us to again shut ourselves in our homes, what is needed is a broader adjustment and revision of health policies.
There is no room right now for dogmatism, lockdowns, and sterile political clashes.
On the contrary, what is needed is a common understanding, an inclusive spirit, flexibility, and the mobilisation of all forces – scientific, social, and political – with the aim of increasing the tools and means for managing the pandemic.
It is mandatory for the government, political parties, healthcare and educational facilities, regional government, trade unions, the army, security forces, the Church, collective groups in the arts and culture, athletic associations, and all social forces to mobilise in order to confront loci of reaction and denial and for everyone to adjust to very tough public health conditions.
The state is also obliged to take care to bolster the embattled health system, and to import new medicines and new methods for dealing with the coronavirus.
At this time, complacency, dogmatism, and clashes are impermissible.
Healthcare is a fundamental social good that requires protection and assistance, and without it all else is conditional and doubtful.