A local well-known health expert has called on officials in the Republic of Cyprus to take a clear position on the AstraZeneca vaccine and stop hiding behind an EMA statement.
Cypriot health expert Leondios Kostrikis, a former member of the government’s pandemic task force committee, has called on the state’s Pharmacy Board to take a clear position on Vaxzervia, the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine developed against the coronavirus.
Kostrikis, who appeared on a local television program on Friday, said hesitation on the part of citizens in Cyprus to get the AstraZeneca vaccine was justifiable, citing the lack of a clear position by state authorities as well as his colleagues who continue to advise the government.
“We cannot hide behind statements by the EMA. They have to take a position on whether they agree or disagree,” Kostrikis said.
'We cannot hide behind statements by the EMA, they have to take a position on whether they agree or disagree,' Kostrikis said
The health expert spoke out after the European Medicines Agency on Wednesday said it had found a possible link between the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and rare blood clotting issues.
But the EU drug regulator stopped short of issuing guidelines, saying countries would have to assess the balance of risks themselves, while also adding that the benefits of getting the shot still outweighed the risks.
Cypriot officials said the AstraZeneca vaccine was a safe choice and called on eligible citizens to book appointments online to get the shot, saying EMA had not ordered the withdrawl of Vaxzervia.
But thousands of AstraZeneca slots were left open on the state’s online registration platform, with available alternatives Moderna and Pfizer snapped up in seconds.
A day earlier, Cypriot Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou criticized some of his EU counterparts, saying member states that did not stick to decisions based on EMA were "causing confusion among citizens.”
But Kostrikis said citizen concerns were not unreasonable and argued that officials in Cyprus ought to make their position on the AstraZeneca vaccine clear.
The Cypriot expert also cited a scientific article in Nature, authored by his mentor in the US, leading virologist David Ho, who found Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to be more effective.
Kostrikis cited Ho’s cutting edge experiments along with latest research in Israel, pointing to important results about the effectiveness of vaccines in mutations.
He also warned that vaccines currently available were not as effective against a virus mutation in South Africa.
“It is a matter of time before it reaches Cyprus,” he said.