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Coronavirus: officials say it would be irresponsible to obtain non EU-approved jabs

Sputnik V
Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

Officials on Thursday called it irresponsible and risky for Cyprus to potentially acquire supplies of Covid-19 vaccine not licensed by EU authorities, and that the island has no choice but to ride out the slow pace of deliveries.

Lawmakers had tabled for discussion the prospect of Cyprus buying vaccines from non-EU countries, given the trickle of doses arriving here.

Ierotheos Papadopoulos, head of the European Commission representation in Cyprus, said that like all EU member states, Cyprus pre-ordered supplies from manufacturers.

All pharmaceutical companies – especially AstraZeneca – had over-estimated their delivery capabilities.

“It is a race against time, but we want to run this race safely…no one said that our advance orders of vaccines would get here in January,” Papadopoulos said.

Regarding Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, the official spoke of a great deal of “misinformation and propaganda.”

The simple fact, Papadopoulos said, is that Sputnik has not applied to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for a licence.

“You hear many stories, about millions of [Sputnik] doses supposedly bought up by the Germans or Bulgarians. In the EU right now, Hungary alone has purchased some doses, according to data they submitted to the European Centre for Disease Prevention.”

Papadopoulos said various suppliers have approached even heads of state with promises they can deliver millions of doses.

“If you went by their claims, there would be around 400 million doses available for the European market…but we don’t know where these vaccines are, how safe they are, and that’s the worry.”

Chiming in, deputy head of the pharmaceutical services Elena Panayiotopoulou said vaccines are classed as an advanced medical technology product, and as such they can be certified and licensed only by the EMA.

For her part, deputy head of the medical services Olga Kalakouta noted that all vulnerable groups in Cyprus should get a Covid jab by late March or early April.

“We estimate that by the first ten days of March all ages over 70 will have been vaccinated.”

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