Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Sputnik vaccine order depends on EMA approval

sputnik v other

Cyprus has pre-ordered 50,000 Sputnik vaccines as a first step and will order more if the Russian-made vaccine secures early approval from the European Medicines Agency, government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said on Wednesday.
His comments came as Akel urged the government to be more proactive with the vaccinations roll-out for a speedier return to normality.
In a daily briefing, Koushos acknowledged a problem has been created with AstraZeneca, with Cyprus joining a number of other EU member states in pausing vaccinations for a few days, pending an EMA case-by-case evaluation of reported blood clot incidents.
EMA executive director Emer Cooke said on Tuesday there was no indication that the blood clot incidents, which she called “very rare”, had been caused by the vaccine, but that experts were assessing that possibility.
Cyprus’ vaccination programme, which had picked up momentum in the past few weeks, relies primarily on Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. Fewer Moderna vaccines are on order, while deliveries of Johnson & Johnson shots, which last week became the fourth vaccine to have received EMA approval, are not expected until next month at the earliest.
“We are waiting for the [EMA] decision by Thursday as to whether vaccinations will continue. We were receiving significant numbers of AZ vaccines and this certainly affects our vaccination programme,” Koushos said.
“All indications are that it will be approved, but we need to wait for the decision.”
Meanwhile, in a bid to secure adequate quantities of vaccines, a first order has been placed for 50,000 Sputnik vaccines. Sputnik vaccines have not yet been approved by the EMA and Cyprus has made clear on several occasions that it can only use them once this is the case.
“This is only the first batch and the importance of the number is relative always to when the vaccine will be approved by the EU,” Koushos said.
If EU approval comes soon, Cyprus will buy more but if it comes at the end of the year when a large section of the population has been vaccinated, there may be no need for large quantities.
He confirmed that the government was in direct contact with the Russians regarding the Sputnik vaccine, adding “we have assurances that we can receive significant quantities, once approved by the relevant authorities of the EU.”
Asked if there was a plan B should the EMA decision on AstraZeneca shots be prohibited, he said although this would not completely derail Cyprus’ vaccination programme, there will be delays in meeting needs.
“It is not possible to immediately replace the vaccine, we are in contact with the competent commissioner and the EU to address this issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking in Polemidia earlier on Wednesday, Akel general secretary Andros Kyprianou urged the government to act more decisively on the vaccines. Cyprus was moving very slowly as regards vaccinations.
“This could be more due to the EU and not to us, but we believe that the government should move more decisively and as regards buying Sputnik vaccines and other vaccines, which I hope will soon be approved by the EU,” he said.



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