People should have no doubts about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to experts, urging everyone to take advantage of the inoculation plan in order to combat the pandemic.
Nikolas Dietis, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Cyprus Medical School said that while it is natural for people to be concerned, they should put all doubts aside.
“We need to listen to the doctors, the scientists, the international organisations which grant licenses and instructions for the vaccines,” Dietis told the Cyprus News Agency.
He added that “as experts, we need to address the doubts. And we do have answers regarding its safety, on why the vaccine was launched so quickly, which may be a rational argument, but lack a significantly sound basis.”
After several dozen people, mostly elderly residents at care homes and frontline health workers, received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Sunday, the vaccination programme continued on Monday with President Nicos Anastasiades receiving the jab and Archbishop Chrystostomos on Tuesday in an effort to raise awareness.
Dietis said that the drug’s safety and effectiveness is backed by data from people who have taken the vaccine, including those vaccinated during clinical research.
“Until now, some four million people have been vaccinated, with no other adverse reaction, apart from some allergies and temporary mild side effects which are included in the vaccine registration dossier,” he said.
Dietis added that it is fortunate that we now have vaccines from two providers, noting that the Moderna vaccine will soon be seeking the EU’s approval in early January and once it is approved it will be distributed to European countries, including Cyprus.
He said that the need for vaccinations will be met gradually until a significant part of the population is vaccinated, which is expected to take a few months.
Meanwhile, officials at the state pharmaceutical services have also reassured the public that they are monitoring the vaccination process, in cooperation with EU pharmaceutical authorities.
Vaccine monitoring across EU
In comments to Philenews on Tuesday, Elena Panayiotopoulou of the Ministry of Health Pharmaceutical Services said that, “the vaccination process, which is ongoing, is identical to what is happening in all member states of the European Union. And just like other member countries, Cyprus participates in the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee”.
PRAC is the European Medicines Agency’s committee responsible for assessing and monitoring human medicines.
“We are constantly on alert and, if necessary, we will react and intervene in the whole process at any given moment,” said Panayiotopoulou.
She said that the monitoring process of a vaccine does not end with its licensing. It also includes the design and evaluation of post-authorisation safety studies and a pharmacovigilance audit.
“As far as the coronavirus vaccine is concerned, each EU member state, including Cyprus, monitors the progress of vaccinations in its territory. Any side effects that are identified, serious or less serious, are recorded and reported to the relevant Committee,” said Panayiotopoulou.
She argued that this process increases the sense of security among the public, noting that thousands of people across Europe and elsewhere in the world have been vaccinated with no serious side effects recorded.