COVID19: Increased vaccine deliveries, over 70s next up

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Cyprus vaccination rollout against COVID-19 is to be boosted in March with increased AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine deliveries as health authorities reach the over 70s earlier than expected.

On Monday, the Health Ministry announced that 16,904 vaccination appointments would be available from Tuesday 9 am for people over 71, plus those in vulnerable groups.

Those aged over 70 will get vaccinated within the next two weeks.

To date, 56,791 people were vaccinated, of which 19,221 have received both jabs.

Health Ministry spokesperson Margarita Kyriacou confirmed to the Financial Mirror that Cyprus would receive an increase in vaccines in March “with deliveries gathering speed in the following three months”.

According to Kyriacou, Cyprus will receive 107,000 vaccines from AstraZeneca in March, up from 69,000 in February, another 50,000 from Pfizer, from an average of 28,000 and 7,500 more from Moderna.

Health authorities in March will have more than 164,000 doses at their disposal, compared to just over 100,000 in February, an increase of 64%.

Cyprus’ vaccination program was boosted this month with the addition of AstraZeneca, allowing it to move to stage four of the vaccination program, which includes the over 70s and specified vulnerable groups.

Studies showing that AstraZeneca works better when the two jabs are 12weeks apart allows health authorities to spread the vaccine out, unlike Pfizer and Moderna.

Pfizer and Moderna recommend the second dose be administrated three weeks after the first, preventing health authorities from distributing more single shots.

Reportedly, the majority of Cypriots have responded to call to get vaccinated.

People’s trust in the vaccines against COVID-19 has improved after initial concerns over whether AstraZeneca was safe for older people. It had not been tested on people over 65 during clinical trials.

Cyprus is the second in the EU, behind Malta, when it comes to vaccinating people aged over 80 with a vaccination rate of over 60%.

The UK’s latest study indicates that vaccinations have drastically cut hospital admissions by up to 94%.

By the fourth week after receiving the initial dose, the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines had reduced hospitalisation risk from Covid-19 by up to 85% and 94%, respectively, according to a study by Scottish universities and Public Health Scotland.

Among people aged 80 and over – those at highest risk – vaccination was associated with an 81% reduction in hospital admission risk in the fourth week when the results for both vaccines were combined.

“The brilliant news is that the vaccine delivery programme, in its current format…is working,” Dr Josie Murray of Public Health Scotland, who was involved in the study, told The Guardian.