Former deputy premier and long-time Pasok minister Evangelos Venizelos has strongly criticised the government over the high number of COVID-19 deaths in Greece – nearly 300 a week he said – as compared to other EU countries, and has called upon the committee of experts and members of the scientific community more generally offer an explanation.

Venizelos, a professor of constitutional law who has served as deputy premier and for many years was a PASOK Minister, is no longer an MP and has essentially withdrawn from active politics, however he expresses his views publicly from time to time on issues that he considers critical, and his views always garner broad publicity.

Recently, he defended Archbishop Elpidophoros of America when the government lambasted him for going to an event in New York because it was attended by the Turkish Cypriot leader of the breakaway state in the occupied territories, that is recognised only by Turkey.

This time, Venizelos issued a dramatic plea for Greece’s scientific community to take a position publicly and to “explain what is going on in the country”.

Venizelos in an interview with a Thessaloniki (his former electoral district) radio station called on the government and the entire political system to urgently make decisions based on the scientific data to stem the rise in the number of COVID-19 deaths.

Hospitals in Thessaloniki and Northern Greece right now under under severe stress due to the mounting number of COVID-19 cases, and ICUs in the hospitals of the northern port city are filled to 90 percent of capacity.

“We are one of the top two countries in Europe in terms of deaths, with 17 deaths per million of population, while Portugal has two deaths per million and Germany four,” he said.

It was the second time Venizelos intervened on the issue, following a similar post on his Facebook account.

There has been no official response to his plea.

“The scientific community must say what is going on in the country, because we are in the top two countries in terms of deaths in Europe. Why is there such a difference? Nearly 300 people are dying each week and it is as if nothing is going on. Everyone is absolutely indifferent,” he said.

“Hence, the scientific community does not have the right to remain silent. Once doctors officially tell us what is going on with their scientific authority and sense of responsibility, the government and the entire political system must take a stand based on the medical data. It is unacceptable not to shoulder the [political] cost for anything.”

What the experts say regarding the number of deaths

The experts told To Vima’s «Vimatodotis» column  that Greece proportionately has a smaller total number of deaths than other European countries.

They maintain that the data presented by Mr. Venizelos were isolated.

In the first wave of the pandemic, experts who sit on the National Committee on COVID-19 said that in Northern European countries, deaths were mainly among people over age 70, while that age bracket was protected in Greece.

Right now, they noted, there are indeed [a large number of] deaths in Greece (36 yesterday), but that the overwhelming majority of people who die are unvaccinated and age 80 or over.

Moreover, they say that people in the provinces who have been infected often do not go to hospital immediately, and when they do go they are already severely ill.