Cyprus has secured an additional 565,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines, the health ministry said on Tuesday as it announced that if EU approval of other vaccines goes as planned, it expects 120,000 people to be vaccinated by the end of March.

The additional doses, obtained under supplementary European Commission procedures, brings the total of Cyprus’ orders of the specific vaccine – one of only two so far licenced in the EU — to 957,000 doses, it said. Each vaccine is administered in two doses.

Overall, this means Cyprus has orders for more than three million doses, the ministry added.

Amid a world shortage for coronavirus vaccines, there has been a general scramble to obtain vaccines. The European Commission, which has been negotiating on behalf of the 27 member states, has completed or is close to completing contracts with eight pharmaceutical companies.

Only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have so far received the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), though a decision on the Astra-Zeneca vaccine is expected before the end of the month.

The ministry said that Cyprus secured about 195,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from the 100 million made available to the EU when it exercised its option to acquire them under the initial contract. It also placed an order for an additional 370,000 doses from an additional supply of 200 million doses negotiated under a supplementary contract.

Cyprus took part in both the procedures to increase availability of vaccines earlier than the initial plan so as to cover the needs of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the ministry said. The additional quantities ordered from Pfizer/BioNTech are expected to be delivered mostly in the second and third quarter of 2021, it added.

According to initial delivery indications, in anticipation of the licensing of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the end of January and provided applications for the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) and CureVac vaccines are submitted and approved, Cyprus expects to have enough vaccines to cover about 120,000 people by the end of March and another 450,000 by the end of June.

Provided these vaccines are approved and based on the ministry’s initial plan, the aim is to cover the population by the end of September.

More details will be given once the quantities and delivery dates are finalised, the ministry.