Cyprus' COVID-19 vaccination drive picking up speed

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 24, 2021
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NICOSIA, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus' COVID-19 vaccination campaign is picking up speed as larger vaccine shipments were due to be delivered on Wednesday under the European Union's joint vaccine procurement scheme, a Health Ministry official said.

Elena Panayiotopoulou, a senior official of the ministry's Medical Services section, told CyBC state radio that close to 20,000 vaccination appointments have been made for the current week, equal to one third of the total number of vaccine doses administered since the program started at the beginning of February.

She said that more than 58,000 people aged over 70, or about seven percent of the country's population, have already been vaccinated, and almost 20,000 of them have received a second jab as well.

She said that Cyprus is only second to Malta among the EU countries in terms of its vaccination rate.

She said that the health authorities expect to take delivery of up to 130,000 vaccine doses in March, the bulk of them -- almost 90,000 doses --coming from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, and the rest from Moderna.

Panayiotopoulou said she expected that 25 percent of the population will be vaccinated by the end of March, while 500,000, more than half of Cyprus' population, would receive the coronavirus shot by the beginning of June.

Petros Karayiannis, a member of the scientific team advising the government, said after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades and Cypriot party leaders that the relaxation of restrictions will come in two stages to enable the vaccination of as many people as possible.

He said that as a first step, more school children will return to their classes as of March 1, while movement restrictions and the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. night-time curfew will remain in force for two more weeks.

Karayiannis said that catering establishments are now scheduled to be reopened on March 15. The decision rests with the Council of Ministers that will meet on Thursday.

Vaccination has become pivotal in the strategy of many countries as they are struggling to contain the pandemic, using already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

A total of 255 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 73 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Feb. 23. Enditem

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