A steady flow of the required number of vaccines depends on the EU’s approval of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, the Cypriot Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said Friday.
“Unfortunately the vaccines being received from the EU’s joint procurement are minimal,” Ioannou said, poiting to the EU’s approval of just two vaccines, those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and the US-developed Moderna vaccine.
The approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine allowed impatient member states to begin inocculations late December, but supply chain issues and low production capacity have marred the rollout of the mass vaccination programs across the bloc.
The EMA on Friday gave the go-ahead for an extra sixth dose to be extracted from Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine vials, increasing the number of available shots by 20%.
The EU has also reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 300 million additional doses of the vaccine, the head of the European Commission said on Friday, in effect doubling the number of doses initially agreed upon.
Meanwhile, the EU’s approval of the Moderna vaccine earlier this week will allow the second approved vaccine to be rolled out across the bloc next week. The EU has secured the purchase of up to 160 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, enough to vaccinate 80 million people of its 448 million citizens, with the US biotech firm vowing to deliver all their doses between now and September 2021.
The Health Minsiter said Cyprus currently reveives a weekly delivery of 6,800 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
While the number of vaccine doses is set to be boosted once the rollout of the Moderna vaccine kicks off next week, Ioannou said that Cyprus won’t be receiving enough doses of the specific vaccine due to the small number of doses ordered at the EU-level.
As such, Ioannou clarified that “in the event that there is no approval of another vaccine by the end of February, we will be able to vaccinate 60-70 thousand people.”
With the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca expected to submit their jointly-developed coronavirus vaccine to the European Medicines Agency next week, for which approval should be issued by the end of January, Ioannou said that this development would see Cyprus getting “tens of thousands of doses on a monthly basis”.