Cyprus Considers AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Use Restrictions

Εθνικός Κήρυξ

A nurse prepares to administer of Pfizer BioNtech against the COVID-19, at a care home in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. Cyprus started today the vaccination program against COVID-19. (Katia Christodoulou/Pool Photo via AP)

NICOSIA -- Worries about potential blood clots, even if rare or remote, have led Cyprus to mull putting restrictions on the use of the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine which could put a crimp in the program to slow the pandemic.

European health authorities are investigating reports of rare blood clots linked to the shot, including fatalities, after earlier declaring it was safe, the uncertainty adding to doubt about its safety despite millions of doses given.

Health Ministry spokesperson Margarita Kyriakou told Cyprus’ Alpha TV that the country’s expert committee is likely to recommend an age limit on the vaccine – Greece and the UK have prohibited it being administered to people under the age of 30 – or “some other type of restriction.”

But she said that, “The ratio of people becoming ill from the AstraZeneca shot is infinitesimal compared to the other risks they face on a day-to-day basis,” with the European Medicines Agency saying the benefits exceed possible risks.

Bulgaria said it may stop using the vaccine, as have a growing list of other countries worried about the side effect which is cutting into the fight against COVID-19 nearly 1 ½ years after it began, showing no signs of ending.

US infectious disease official Anthony Fauci also was skeptical about AstraZeneca, telling the BBC while it’s effective that worry about its safety is telling and potentially troublesome.

“I think that the AstraZeneca vaccine from a standpoint of efficacy is a good vaccine, and if the safety issue gets straightened out in the European Union… the efficacy of that vaccine is really quite good,” he said, according to Reuters.

“Whether or not we ever use AZ is unclear but it looks right now at this point in time that we will not need it. It’s not a negative indictment of AZ, it is just possible that given the supply that we have from other companies that we may not need to use an AZ vaccine,” he added about it.