COVID19: Health Ministry denies vaccine shortage

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The Health Ministry has rejected rumours that Cyprus is running low on COVID-19 vaccines, confirming that authorities are pushing Moderna jabs to balance out a high demand for Pfizer.

Reportedly people turning up at walk-in vaccination centres were turned away, being told they had run out of vaccines, and a Nicosia walk-in centre (Latsia) closed down due to shortages.

Politis daily reported Wednesday that people were turned away at the walk-in centres at the state fair in Nicosia and told there were no more vaccines available.

Rumours of vaccine shortages, and more specifically Pfizer jabs, were fuelled by the Ministry’s decision to have walk-in centres cater solely to university students who will only be given Moderna jabs.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Konstantinos Athanasiou, the Health Ministry’s communication officer, played down rumours of vaccine shortages, arguing that all vaccination centres were equipped with bot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“People are not being turned away.

“High demand for Pfizer vaccines could lead some centres to run out of their Pfizer stock a few hours before closing time.

“However, people are given the option of a Moderna jab.”

The Ministry’s official confirmed that authorities have turned to Moderna vaccines to manage stocks better.

He said because Pfizer shots have been in high demand recently, with more than 10,000 daily vaccinations, there is a surplus of Moderna vaccines.

“Each EU member state is obliged to maintain enough stocks to cover vaccination needs.

“At the moment, there is only a limited number of companies providing mRNA vaccines approved by the European Medicine Agency.

“With limited choices and in unfavourable market conditions, member states must make the most of vaccines available,” argued Athanasiou.

He explained that each EU state receives vaccine deliveries within a deal struck between Brussels and the pharmaceuticals.

The EU and Cyprus currently employ only mRNA vaccines for their booster shot rollout, with Pfizer and Moderna the only available options.

“Within these conditions, walk-in vaccination centres are supplied with a fixed daily supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“The high demand for the Pfizer jab could mean that they run out at walk-in centres before the end of the day.

“People will not be turned away but will be offered a Moderna vaccine instead.”

The Health Ministry said people should not shy away from Moderna shots, adding that some studies show the jab has a higher efficacy against Omicron, COVID-19’s latest variant.