COVID19: Vaccination reaches over 70s quicker than expected

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Cyprus on Tuesday moved to the next stage of its vaccination rollout now covering those under 75 helped by the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

After vaccinating nearly 5% of the population including care home residents and frontline health workers, the government opened another 9,096 new vaccination appointments for people over 74 from Wednesday at 9 am.

Essentially, as of Wednesday, Cyprus – with a population of 900,000 – will be moving to stage four of its vaccination program which includes people over 70 and health workers.

At the last count, 44,429 people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, of which 14,837 have received both doses.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, the Health Ministry’s spokesperson Margarita Kyriacou said that AstraZeneca doses have untied the hands of the ministry allowing it to speed up the vaccination program.

The program has picked up speed, after AstraZeneca’s recommendation, endorsed by the European Medicine Agency, that the vaccine reaches maximum efficacy when the second dose is administrated after 12 weeks.

“This gives us the advantage of using the majority of quantities arriving to vaccinate more people, as the second dose can be administrated much later than those of other pharmaceuticals,” said Kyriacou.

“Our goal was to vaccinate all people over 75 and health workers by the end of February. We are now in a position to readjust our goal of covering people over 70 years of age.”

The spokesperson said the ministry now aims to vaccinate some 200,000 people or 20% of the population by the end of March.

Kyriacou also said that the health services have completed vaccinations of dentists affiliated with the General Health System, while also starting to vaccinate pharmacists.

“We have also started vaccinating patients with Thalassaemia and people who need to undergo frequent haemodialysis.”

Currently, Cyprus receives 6,800 doses from Pfizer and 2,400 doses from Moderna weekly while vaccines from AstraZeneca are to reach 69,00 for February.

Based on the vaccination plan for COVID-19, the total amount of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines available is 957,000 (divided into 2 doses per person) until the third quarter of 2021.

Cyprus has placed its biggest order of vaccines with AstraZeneca, amounting to 1,192,043, with an additional 156,668 from Moderna.

Authorities have ordered around 3.5 mln doses from eight pharmaceuticals, through the EU, which correspond to inoculating its entire population three times over.

Cyprus plans is to inoculate 70% of the general population by the end of June when herd immunity should be reached.