COVID19: Cyprus on verge of 400,000 vaccinations landmark

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Cyprus’ health authorities estimate that the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout will have surpassed 400,000 milestone by Wednesday, helped by a recent uptake in AstraZeneca shots.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, the acting head of the Health Ministry’s pharmaceutical services, Dr Olga Kalakouta, said: “We are particularly pleased with people’s response to the vaccination program, setting aside concerns over possible side-effects”.

She was referring to concerns over links between rare blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Concerns over links of rare blood clotting incidents to AZ have resurfaced as the vaccination rollout reaches those under 30, but authorities have no plans to change the guidelines.

While the EU Medicines Agency has said the benefits of AstraZeneca’s cheap and easily transportable vaccine outweigh any risks, several European countries have limited use to older age groups.

The risk of a clot is roughly one in 100,000 for people in their 40s but rises to one in 60,000 for people in their 30s, evidence suggests.

Two in a million people in their 40s died, rising to four per million people in their 30s.

Dr Kalakouta said the trend of people opting for any other jab except AstraZeneca was overturned when the vaccination rollout reached people in their early 40s and 30s.

“When we reached people aged 43, we saw the trend going the other way, with many people opting for the AstraZeneca jab from the start.

“We saw people booking an appointment for an AZ jab as soon as the online platform had gone live, without even looking at the availability of other vaccines.”

She argued the decision to bring General Practitioners on board has paid off.

“More than 200 GPs have come on board, submitting large orders for AstraZeneca jabs. We have received orders for 20,000 doses, while 4,000 people have already been vaccinated by their GP.”

GPs are given AstraZeneca jabs exclusively due to the vaccine’s simple storage requirements.

Whereas Pfizer and Moderna jabs need to be stored at -75֯ C and -25֯ C, AstraZeneca can be stored in a normal refrigerator for vaccines.

Demand for AstraZeneca has dipped among people in their 20s, with first indications revealing this age group is hesitant to take the jab.

“At the same time, younger people feel more at ease as the risks of developing severe Covid, if you catch the virus, lessen in younger age groups.”

The Health Ministry said that 284,264 people, or 38.4% of the adult population, have received the first jab of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, while 87,166 people have completed their vaccination (11.8%).

Wednesday will see people aged 25-26 able to book a vaccination appointment.