COVID19: President gets second jab as vaccine rollout stutters

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President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as Cyprus pushes on with its vaccination program under reduced supply.

Health authorities have begun administrating the second dose to the first group of people vaccinated in December, three weeks after their first jab.

Exiting the vaccination centre at Latsia, Anastasiades, urged people to be patient, saying that Cyprus is waiting for larger quantities of vaccines to arrive to boost its vaccination rollout.

“We are at the stage where vaccines are being delivered,” Anastasiades said.

“Of course, we expect that a higher number will provide the opportunity for us to provide immunity to the largest possible percentage of our population.”

Anastasiades, 74, expressed satisfaction over the decreased number of COVID-19 infections in recent days but said he was especially concerned over the rising number of hospital admissions.

Cases in Cyprus have stabilised in the 200s with Sunday seeing just 157 new cases, detected after a significantly lower 7,056 tests carried out due to the weekend slowing down.

Anastasiades expressed his gratitude to frontline health workers, calling them “heroes” who helped the country becoming one of the most successful in handling the pandemic.

The President referring to the lockdown being “unbearable”, but said the measures were necessary to halt the pandemic.

Cyprus’ health services on Sunday started administrating the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of nursing homes and frontline health workers.

Some 10,226 people had received the first jab according to the Health Ministry. This includes residents and staff of 114 out of the 121 care homes nationwide.

Cyprus’ vaccination plan is in now in stage two. It aims to vaccinate people over 80 years old.

Interest from senior citizens to get the COVID-19 vaccine is high with weekly appointments made available via an online platform being filled within hours.

The Health Ministry said 3,466 appointments at the nine vaccination centres islandwide for the over 80s made available on Monday at 9 am were gone within an hour.

Meanwhile, the vaccination of paediatricians and GPs began last Wednesday.

Regarding a delay in vaccine deliveries announced by Pfizer, the Health Ministry said that, after consultations with the EU, the firms delivery schedule will be interrupted for just a week.

As a result, the next delivery of Pfizer vaccines to Cyprus, arriving on Monday, has been halved from 6,825 to 3,510, which is expected to affect the number of vaccinations in early February.

The Ministry did, however, note that the overall number of vaccines expected to be received from Pfizer during the first three months will not be affected.

Based on the national vaccination plan for COVID-19, the total amount of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines available to Cyprus is 391,637 (divided into 2 doses per person) until the third quarter of 2021.

A total of 48,955 was expected to be distributed by end of January, according to the ministry’s action plan, which corresponds to vaccinating 24,477 people.

The first batch of 1,200 doses of vaccines from US pharmaceutical Moderna arrived in Cyprus last week.

Cyprus will receive 16,500 doses from Moderna before the end of March, and the first vaccines from AstraZeneca should arrive by mid-February.

The biggest order for vaccines is from AstraZeneca, amounting to 1,192,043.