Vaccinations in Cyprus will begin in unison with other EU member states on December 27 following approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Cyprus health minister Constantinos Ioannou said in a Twitter post on Thursday that EU member states are expected to begin inoculations on December 27, 28, and 29, as announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Germany broke the news on Thursday, with the country’s health minister Jens Spahn stating before an online meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and executives from vaccine maker BioNTech that “in Germany we will start, if the approval comes as planned, on December 27. The other countries in the EU want to be able to start and want to start from December 27."
According to Spahn, the vaccine should become available to all 27 EU member states at the same time, regardless of their financial strength, thanks to negotiations led by the European Commission that he said were an "important signal of European solidarity".
EU member states are by and large obliged to wait for the EMA to approve coronavirus vaccines, with the regulator expected to make an announcement on December 21.
With inoculations already rolled out in Britain and the United States, the EU has been subject to criticism over a slow approval process for the jabs.
A senior EU official said on Wednesday the bloc could give its final approval for the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, on December 23.
That will be weeks after Britain, which left the EU early this year, approved the shot on Decmeber 3 for emergency use, followed by Canada on December 9 and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 11.
In Britain, around 140,000 people have already received the jabs, BioNTech Chief Medical Officer Oezlem Tuereci said at Thursday's online event.
The European Union will take up its option to buy up to 100 million more doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine after turning down an opportunity in July for a much bigger deal, according to EU officials and an internal document.
The plan comes after some of the vaccine candidates ordered by the EU faced unexpected delays in clinical trials, forcing the bloc and other wealthy nations to rely for now on shots from fewer manufacturers than initially planned.
The EU has also concluded preliminary talks with US firm Novavax to secure up to 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, a Commission spokesman said on Thursday.
"The envisaged contract foresees the possibility for member states to buy 100 million doses with the option of buying another 100 million doses," the spokesman said.
In total, the EU has booked nearly 1.3 billion vaccines in deals with Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sanofi/GSK and CureVac, and has options to buy another 660 million.
But clinical tests of the vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca and Sanofi have suffered delays, and CureVac has not yet begun large-scale trials.
Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca could submit applications to EU regulators by March, the head of the EU drugs regulator said last week.