COVID19: Cyprus to increase Pfizer jabs, AZ gets cold shoulder

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Cyprus’ COVID-19 vaccination rollout will rely more on Pfizer jabs, with increased deliveries in the coming months, while those from AstraZeneca will decrease as Cypriots snub the vaccine.

Deliveries of Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are significantly smaller than those of the other two vaccines.

Meanwhile, the EU is leaning towards changing its initial plans for vaccinations, as it will be redesigning its second stage of the vaccine rollout in Autumn, relying exclusively on Pfizer.

Vice President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas said changes to the bloc’s vaccination rollout would include only mRNA vaccines produced in the EU.

“So, de facto, we are only going to be negotiating with the Pfizer/BioNTech consortium.

“These vaccines will be ready before the end of the year,” said Schinas.

He added that 900 million Pfizer doses would be delivered in 2022 and the same in 2023.

He also said that people who, by the second stage of the union’s vaccine rollout, will have been vaccinated would need to take a booster shot of an mRNA vaccine.

The EU Commission’s decision comes after a fallout between Brussels and AstraZeneca over delays in deliveries.

The European Union launched legal action against the pharmaceutical multinational AstraZeneca for failing to meet its contractual obligations for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines and lacking a “reliable strategy” to ensure timely deliveries.

In Cyprus, health officials are pushing ahead with the vaccination rollout using all four vaccines currently approved by the European Medicine Association (EMA), Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, acting director of Cyprus Pharmaceutical Services, Elena Panayiotopoulou, confirmed Cyprus would receive increased deliveries from Pfizer.

Panayiotopoulou refrained from commenting on statements by Schinas.

“Vaccines licensed by the European Medicines Agency are allowed to circulate and be used to vaccinate people in the EU.

“There is no question of not vaccinating someone with these vaccines as there is no directive on halting vaccinations”.

Cyprus is expecting 600,000 doses of Pfizer, about 350,000 AstraZeneca jabs and 80,000 from Moderna.

Health authorities are pushing forward with the vaccination plan to reach people in their 30’s this week.

On Tuesday, the online vaccination portal catered for 42-year-olds, with just 6,190 bookings from 10,389 slots made available.

Some 5,411 appointments were made for a Pfizer jab, 439 for AstraZeneca and 340 for Moderna.

On Wednesday, the portal opened for people aged 41, with 9,154 appointments available. Within one hour from opening at 7.30 am, 5,815 slots were taken.

The portal will reopen at 7.30 am on Thursday for people aged 39-40.