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Our View: When did political party leaders become vaccine experts?

Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos

Who would have thought that the Cyprus political party system would have produced an expert on Covid-19 vaccines? Edek seems to think it is qualified to issue verdicts on the different vaccines because its leader, Marinos Sizopoulos, is a medical doctor, with an expertise in dermatology. And, Edek felt vindicated that some EU member countries, including Cyprus, had temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, pending the verdict of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Thursday.

In an announcement, early Thursday, the party said: “We want to repeat that Edek, from the first moment, identified the dangers looming for public health from vaccines of the AstraZeneca type, but unfortunately our concerns were not taken into account.” Does Cyprus’ socialist party have a team of medical researchers that carried out tests on the the vaccine before arriving at the above conclusion that was ignored by the authorities? Should the health ministry have followed the advice of Edek on the vaccine rather than the EMA, which first gave its approval in January?

On Wednesday the World Health Organisation, recommended that vaccinations continued because the benefits outweighed the risks while on Thursday, after discussing the possible adverse effects, the EMA gave fresh advice saying the AstraZeneca vaccine was “safe and effective”. Like the Cyprus government, WHO and EMA ignored the expert advice of Edek’s medical researchers that had identified the dangers of the vaccine before everyone.

Apart from its laughable pseudo-expertise on vaccines, being repeated for days now, Sizopoulos has also turned the choice of vaccine into a human right. “The right of patients in the choice of vaccine and equal treatment is inalienable and should be respected by everyone.” This is Edek’s new mantra even though other politicians and journalists have been arguing, quite irresponsibly, that the patient must have the right to choose the vaccine they want, like when they go to the supermarket and choose a shampoo.

Edek and other champions of vaccine ‘choice’ do not seem to understand that, in contrast with shampoos, there is a big supply shortage of Covid-19 vaccines and all countries are forced to take whichever vaccine and whatever number is on offer. The disingenuous populists of Edek make it seem like the government had gone for the wrong vaccine, because “it did not apply for bigger quantities of the modern vaccine technology mRNA like those of Pfizer and Moderna.”

People should be grateful that, thanks to our EU membership, we have managed to secure vaccines, and if they choose to be vaccinated accept the vaccine on offer because they might have to wait a very long time before the vaccine, approved by the experts of Edek is available.

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