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COVID19: Cyprus planning for vaccine roll-out

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Cyprus’ Health Ministry said on Thursday that good news from pharmaceutical firms engaging in a race against time to develop a coronavirus vaccine is a reason to feel encouraged with a vaccination plan already drafted.

Several companies have announced they are entering the final stages of clinical trials, which are to be completed soon with some reporting encouraging results from their trials so far.

Pfizer and Astra Zeneca are close to completing their clinical trials and are expected to file for approval with the European Medicines Agency while Moderna is close to filing for approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration.

The Health Ministry said: “At a European level an initiative has been developed through the Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides and agreements have already been signed between the European Commission and the companies AstraZeneca, Pfizer / BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi Pasteur & GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals.

In its statement, the Ministry said that Cyprus, as an EU Member, is participating in all four agreements signed through the European Commission and has already submitted its respective orders for each case.

Cyprus has placed an order of 600,000 doses from AstraZeneca, 200,000 from Johnson & Johnson and 200,000 from Pfizer / BioNTech (Sanofi Pasteur & GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals has not yet asked countries to place orders).

Cyprus will be entitled to quantities, according to its population, of the approved vaccines at the same time as the rest of its EU counterparts.

The Ministry said a plan has already been drawn up for the vaccination process, while, with the cooperation of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Coronavirus, the groups called to be vaccinated first have been determined on the basis of an algorithm.

A Health Ministry official told the Financial Mirror that logistical problems arising from the need to store some vaccines at very low temperatures will be addressed when the vaccines are licensed.

“Vaccinations will take place at the Republic’s vaccination centres, and the procedure regarding appointments will be determined once we have an indication when the vaccine is available,” said the official.

Pharmaceutical Moderna’s pioneering in messenger RNA (MRNA) Therapeutics, announced it has produced a highly effective vaccine, with an efficiency rate of 94.5%.

Another positive factor is the claim it can be stored at less extreme temperatures, unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which makes transport logistics less daunting.

The Pfizer vaccine, which also employs the MRNA technology and has high efficiency, provides a logistics problem, as their vaccine needs to be stored at temperatures of -80 degrees Celsius.