Editorial: The year in review, an accounting
Unfortunately, COVID will not leave us any time soon. The Omicron variant is already demonstrating its potency internationally and has made compulsory a series of restrictions throughout Europe. The virus will follow us and pressure us tortuously in 2022
The 2021 bicentennial of the start of the Greek Revolution was a year of trials and tribulations for everyone, but especially for doctors and healthcare workers who continually are battling in ICUs to save human lives.
Certainly, they deserve honour and boundless support. Yet, the result was disheartening. Thousands of our fellow citizens died. It was the deadliest year since the start of the pandemic.
At the beginning of 2021, all those involved in managing the public health crisis had the illusion that the COVID-19 pandemic was coming to an end and that everything would be better by summer.
That shifted the focus to the economy, which dramatically shrank due to many restrictive measures and the ban on many activities in 2020.
The government, lacking unlimited funding to cover the many financial losses of citizens, turned its attention to improving economic conditions.
It was encouraged by the prevailing high, and well-grounded as it turns out, expectations of a stronger tourist current.
The advent of vaccines affected decisions.
They were well-received by the public in March and there was initially a mass of people flocking to vax centres nationwide to get the jab. Those responsible were optimistic that the initial high vaccination rate would be maintained and create an adequate wall of immunity to fend off the waves of new variants that followed.
The dilemma between pandemic and economy tilted in favour of the latter. The freeing up of activities was expedited and the country was opened for everyone since the beginning of last summer.
Meanwhile, the government last summer managed to secure major funding, grants, subsidies and loans worth 32bn euros from the EU Recovery Fund to achieve a rebirth of the economy. Combined with monies from other EU funds and the expected bank leveraging, that could create a dynamic reserve of 100bn euros in funding for the next seven years.
Post-pandemic EU Recovery Funding combined with the constantly sought bolstering of the country’s presence, is making Greece an investment destination for the strongest, multi-national, collective investment vehicles.
Since the end of summer, the Greek market became especially attractive, as was demonstrated by the wave of buy outs and foreigners seeking Greek stock, with values that were inconceivable a few years ago.
However, the optimistic atmosphere was overshadowed by the awful performance in the public health sector.
With the focus on the economy, the transmission and danger of the Delta variant was underestimated. Not enough attention was paid to the corrosive propaganda of anti-vax circles, leaving unprotected a substantial segment of the most vulnerable age bracket, those over 60-years-old.
The result of the aforementioned factors was that by mid-summer there was another surge in the epidemic, undermining the ability of the National Health System to effectively respond to the coming surge beginning in early autumn.
It was the harshness of the latest surge that led to over 20,000 deaths as the year ends.
Unfortunately, COVID will not leave us any time soon. The Omicron variant is already demonstrating its potency internationally and has made compulsory a series of restrictions throughout Europe.
The virus will follow us and pressure us tortuously in 2022. The public health time bomb is active and able to harm economic achievements.
That requires vigilance and striking a better balance between public health and the economy.
The traumatic year 2022, which marks the 100th commemoration of the in many ways traumatic Asia Minor catastrophe, should not disappoint us. It should teach us. That requires prudence and a sense of measure.
Optimism is fine, but there are many elements of uncertainty that require monitoring and attention.