Cyprus is in contact with the competent authorities of the European Union and is monitoring everything in relation to the vaccinations against Covid-19, Helena Panayiotopoulou, Acting Director of the Health Ministry's Pharmaceutical Services said Friday.
Panayiotopoulou was called to comment on reports severe adverse effects stemming from a specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine that was also delivered to Cyprus. On Thursday, Denmark announced it would temporarily suspend AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shots after reports of cases of blood clots forming, including one in Denmark, while Austria has stopped using the batch of AstraZeneca shots while investigating a death from coagulation disorders and an illness from a pulmonary embolism. Six other European countries have halted the use of the vaccine batch from AstraZeneca.
Panayiotopoulou said Cyprus has no reports regarding thromboembolic episodes in response to any vaccine being administered, but noted that Cyprus too has temporarily suspended the administration of a particular batch as a preventative measure. The island will be waiting for a green light from the Pharmacovigilance and Risk Assessment Committee of the European Medicines Agency before the batch is including in the island's vaccine rollout.
But, she said that vaccines serve to prevent coronavirus, adding that if a person is vaccinated and then something happens, it does not necessarily mean that the vaccine is to blame.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Wednesday there was no evidence so far linking AstraZeneca to the two cases in Austria. It said the number of thromboembolic events – marked by the formation of blood clots – in people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine is no higher than that seen in the general population, with 22 cases of such events being reported among the 3 million people who have received it as of March 9. Reiterating this logic, Panayiotopoulou said the possibility of having a car accident is much higher than having a thromboembolic episode from a vaccine.
Panayiotopoulou said the exact number of people who have been incoluted with a jab from the specific batch is still being investigated.
AstraZeneca cut its supply forecast of Covid-19 vaccines to the European Union in the first quarter to about 30 million doses, a third of its contractual obligations and a 25% drop from pledges made last month. Panayiotopoulou said it remains unclear whether this will affect Cyprus.