President Nicos Anastasiades briefed EU leaders in a videoconference on Thursday evening on the problems Cyprus is facing due to the slow rollout of coronavirus vaccines mainly brought about by the production delays of pharmaceutical companies supplying jabs for the EU.
The videoconference sought to discuss ways of coordinating efforts to contain the pandemic, which has so far caused over 98.2 million deaths worldwide. EU leaders agreed that on the need to step up inoculations and meet vaccination targets as soon as possible.
Anastasiades called on the Commission to continue working intensively to meet the obligations of pharmaceutical companies and to receive increased quantities of vaccines as soon as possible.
It emerged on Friday that the Commission will be requesting a clarification from US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer for the new delays in vaccine deliveries to the EU.
Deliveries of the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech were reduced by half this week as a result of a reorganization of its production structure, though both Pfizer and the EU have announced the situation will be rectified by next week.
Referring to the vaccination program in Cyprus, the President noted it aims to see half of the island vaccinated by June and the entire population, or at least all who choose to get the jab, by September.
Anastasiades also referred to the delivery of the first batch of vaccines procured through the EU’s joint strategy to the Turkish Cypriot community.
The President expressed support for the proposal tabled by the Greek Prime Minister on the introduction of an EU vaccination certificate, with the aim of the gradually lifting travel restrictions once conditions allow.
Deputy government spokesman Panayiotis Sentonas said Friday that during his intervention, Anastasiades gave thanks to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides for the efforts exerted to meet the vaccination needs of the bloc.
Pfizer has reduced vaccine production in view of maximizing its production capacity from 1.3 billion vaccine doses to 2 billion.
The company also announced that changes in its production process and infrastructure require the provision of new approvals by control mechanisms.
The new conditions, the statement said, will affect vaccine delivery in January and early February, but there will be a significant increase in available doses later.