Cyprus hopes to achieve herd immunity by the end of June with about 60-70% of the population inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, health minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Saturday.
He said after visiting the vaccination centre at the Cyprus Expo state fair in Nicosia, that by recruiting some 200 GPs to assist with the vaccination programme, some 14,000 jabs can be offered per day.
GPs will be offering the AstraZeneca vaccines without having to go through the national health system GESY platform, after this jab was shunned by the Cyprus public after cases of thrombosis, that opted mainly for the Pfizer vaccine, as well as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.
He added that 218,000 people or about 30% of the population has received the first dose of the vaccines.
“By the end of the current lockdown on May 10, we expect 270,000 people to have received the first dose of the vaccine. Ideal immunity will be achieved three weeks from that dose,” Ioannou said.
Most of the restrictions will be lifted once about 70% of the population has been vaccinated, Ioannou said, adding that some measures may stay for longer, possibly the use of facial masks.
“We are going through the most critical period of the pandemic and the only way to contain the spread of the virus is through vaccinations,” the minister said.
Ioannou said that there is a significant drop in infections among the over 70 year olds, where we have exceeded 80% vaccinations, while in the 60-69 age group, the vaccination rate has reached 55%.
“We continue to receive increased quantities of vaccines and we have boosted the vaccination process,” Ioannou said.
Lockdown impact in a week
As regards the stricter measures introduced with the 2-week Lockdown III on April 26, the health minister said that the impact will be felt on Sunday or Monday, or one week after the restrictions were imposed.
“We will review the situation next week,” he said.
As regards the death of a 37 year old on Friday, closing April with a death toll of 56, the third worst month since the pandemic started, Ioannou said that the various mutations seem to be affecting younger people, causing serious illness or death.
Four people died of the coronavirus on Friday, the number of patients admitted for treatment dropped by four from the day before to 275, while the critical cases were also five fewer at 70.
In all, 676 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 were recorded, eight more than the day before, but below the daily 700 and 800 seen over the past week.
The total number of infections during the past 13 months rose to 65,909.