by Maria Spiliopoulou, Valentini Anagnostopoulou
ATHENS, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Greece has already administered over one million COVID-19 vaccine doses, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, urging citizens to remain patient during the lockdown.
"Today, we exceed the symbolic number of one million doses administered, which means that every week that passes we are building the wall of immunity that will allow us to leave behind this ordeal," Mitsotakis said in an e-mailed statement.
"Each vaccine is another step towards our goal to beat the pandemic and be all healthy and protected soon," he stressed in a video message released by his office.
Greece on Thursday recorded 2,219 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the national total to 199,496. The country's death toll rose by 35 in a 24-hour span to 6,632.
As the number of new infections were still high, Mitsotakis also urged citizens to not allow the fatigue to destroy what has been achieved.
Visiting European Commission Vice President in charge of promoting the European way of life, Margaritis Schinas, congratulated the Greek authorities on the progress of the vaccination campaign, according to an e-mailed press release by Greece's General Secretariat for Civil Protection.
Schinas was welcomed by Greek officials in the largest vaccination center in Athens, where 5,760 people can be inoculated each day.
"It is very important and symbolic that I am here today, the day the country exceeded one million doses. The Greek population's 6.5 percent has been vaccinated with one dose and 3.5 percent with both doses. (Greece) has developed a program for 1,000 vaccination centers. It has one of the lowest missed dose rates in Europe," Schinas said.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 258 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 76 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to the latest information released by the World Health Organization.
In a recent survey conducted for SKAI TV, 80 percent of respondents said they intended to get inoculated and 68 percent said they acknowledged the necessity of the lockdown. However, 24 percent wanted to see the measures lifted as soon as possible.
The Greek government has raised its projection for the cost of support measures for society and the real economy to 11.6 billion euros (14 billion U.S. dollars) this year from an initial forecast of 7.5 billion euros due to the persistence of negative pandemic data, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told a forum on Thursday, the Greek national news agency AMNA reported.
The lockdown costs the country about 750 million euros each week, he said, adding that the state has supported the economy with 27 billion euros so far and the government has prepared a funding plan of projects and reforms to be funded by the EU Recovery Fund.
Representatives of many sectors of the economy have requested immediate additional aid to stay afloat.
Meanwhile, taxi drivers held a protest in the center of Athens on Thursday.
"We have shown patience, but the sector is in despair," Serafeim Kasidiaris, president of the Greek federation of taxi drivers, said. (1 euro = 1.20 U.S. dollars) Enditem