COVID19: Cyprus to get first vaccines in December

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If all goes to plan, Cyprus will receive its first deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines before the end of the year, with vaccinations beginning soon after, said government scientists Tuesday.

Member of the government’s COVID committee Zoi Dorothea Pana said vaccine distribution could start this month if everything goes according to schedule and pharmaceutical companies receive their approvals.

Moderna and Pfizer/ BioNTech have applied for approval with the European Medicine Agency and have pledged to start supplying countries with their vaccine in December.

Astra Zeneca is expected to apply in the coming days as well.

Pana said Cyprus Health authorities “are racing against time to ensure at the EU level, simultaneous and fair delivery of vaccines for all countries, at the same cost.”

The Republic of Cyprus, she added “participates in all the central procedures of the European Commission”, noting Nicosia has orders with six different companies.

Cyprus expects to receive 1,192,043 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine starting this year, through to the second quarter of 2022.

Health authorities are to receive 119,24 vaccines by the end of the year and another 158,939 doses in the first three months of 2021.

Similarly, delivery of 391,637 doses of the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine expected to start this month and continue until the third quarter of 2021. Both vaccines are dispensed in two doses per person.

Dr Pana laid out the government’s vaccination plan which foresees the first people to receive the vaccine will be frontline workers such as health professionals in the public and private sectors.

Followed by vulnerable groups who have a high risk of serious illness if infected by the virus.

Next in line to receive the vaccine, are workers in essential services such as the police, cleaners, public transport workers, food supply staff.

It will continue to be rolled out according to the risk of spreading the virus because of the nature of someone’s work.

Dr Pana said that even with a vaccine, scientists agree that certain protective measures like masks and physical distancing would have to remain in place for much longer.

Cyprus has seen a steep rise in COVID-19 cases, which forced authorities to impose an island-wide curfew, restaurants and coffee shops closing at 7 pm and tighter measures for shops.

Health authorities have confirmed 10,565 infections following a resurgence of the virus which saw 6,157, recorded in November, more than half of all recorded cases since the outbreak in March.

The head of the committee, Constantinos Tsioutis, warned that Cyprus has not reached a point that would force the authorities to go into full lockdown, one of the few EU countries not to do so during the second wave of the pandemic.

He said the second wave has not reached “critical levels” in terms of health provision, despite the recent rise in hospital admissions.

Committee member George Nikolopoulos, said hospitals have seen nine to ten admissions per day “without seeing any tendency of abatement.”

Some 120 people are currently being treated in hospitals, 16 in ICUs.