Cyprus’s vaccination strategy and the implementation of protective measures could lead to a gradual relaxation of measures against Covid-19 by early May, Minister of Health Constantinos Ioannou has said, as Cyprus announced on Friday new three-week lockdown measures in a bid to limit the increasing number of covid hospitalisations.
Speaking during a press conference, Ioannou said that the new lockdown measures aim to shield the health system and provide the necessary space so that daily Covid infections could be curtailed, assisted by the increasing vaccine coverage.
Ioannou expressed hope that protective measures could be gradually or lifted altogether by May, provided that the vaccine of AstraZeneca will be approved for usage, something which would lead to an increase in vaccination dosages.
Citing unofficial information, the Health Minister said AstraZeneca is expected on Monday to apply to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for distribution authorisation, which means that the green light could be given by end-January of early February.
This would allow Cyprus to receive tenths of thousands of vaccine dosages on a monthly basis, Ioannou said.
He made clear that the new lockdown measures are contingent to the island’s epidemiological data and appealed to the public to comply with the new measures, with a view to achieving the desired results that would enable a rapid de-escalation which would be beneficial both for the economy as well as the people’s psychology.
With regards to vaccinations, Ioannou said that the Ministry’s advisory committee has drafted a plan according to the recommendations of the EU’s ECDC, placing priority on first-line health professionals which are in direct contact with Covid infections and those working in Accident and Emergency Departments, while vaccination has begun for elderly homes and is expected to conclude next Sunday.
So far 4,500 persons have been vaccinated which as a percentage of the population places Cyprus among the top three countries as far as Covid vaccination is concerned, he added.
Ioannou noted however that only two pharmaceutical companies have been licensed so far by the EU and consequently the vaccine quantities received by the EU are small.
Noting that vaccines will increase when Moderna receives the green light, Ioannou said Cyprus receives 6,800 vaccines dosages on a weekly basis
If no other vaccine receives the green light for distribution, some 60,000 to 70,000 people will be vaccinated by the end of February, he said.
Ioannou also stressed that according to statistical data, hopistalisation could be reduced by 80% if the 20% of the population is vaccinated on the specific priority list among vulnerable groups.