Cyprus’ privacy commissioner says a recent decision by the health ministry to withhold vaccination history in reported COVID deaths could not be based on privacy concerns but “possibly other reasons.”
Commissioner for Personal Data Protection Irene Loizidou, who was a guest on a television news program on Monday, weighed in on recent instructions by the health ministry to withhold information on vaccination history in COVID deaths reported daily to the media.
Last week the health ministry stopped providing vaccination details in cases of patients who died after being infected with coronavirus, citing privacy concerns.
'Legal entities and the deceased, based on the legislative framework, do not have data privacy,' said the commissioner
But Loizidou says Cypriot law currently does not grant privacy protections after death. “Legal entities and the deceased, based on the legislative framework, do not have data privacy,” she said.
Last week health officials said the ministry changed its policy because vaccination histories in reported deaths “ended up causing more uncertainty over the effectiveness of vaccines and the overall vaccination programme.”
Officials argued that omitting vaccination history altogether was a better choice than breaching privacy in order to give a full picture in each case, adding it would have been necessary to go into many details such as dates of vaccination, date of infection, date of admission to hospital, whether someone fell ill before or after getting the vaccine, or whether a death took place before post-vaccination immunity could be built up in the body.
The commissioner, who said her office had received questions over the issue, went to suggest that the health ministry may have taken the decision “possibly for other reasons, but certainly not for information privacy.”