NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cypriot health authorities on Wednesday advised people aged under 50 to use the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines that are based on the newer, mRNA technology.
The Health Ministry said the decision came after a majority recommendation by its panel of scientific advisers on COVID-19, following “reports of serious incidents concerning blood clots.”
It didn't provide further details. Cypriot media have reported extensively on the death of a 39-year-old woman — allegedly from a brain hemorrhage — about two weeks after she received an AstraZeneca shot, although it wasn’t clear whether the jab was actually linked with her death.
The ministry's advisory body also decided unanimously that people who have already got their first AstraZeneca shot and didn't suffer serious side-effects such as blood clots must receive their follow-up jab, which the ministry said “is particularly significant for their protection from COVID-19 and its variants.”
Advisory body member Zoe Pana told private TV station ALPHA that the possibility of a person suffering a blood clot or other serious side-effect on their second AstraZeneca shot is minimal.
Earlier Wednesday, advisory body chief Constantinos Tsioutis told state broadcaster CyBC that some scientists had suggested sidelining the AstraZeneca vaccine altogether.
The Health Ministry has already sought guidance from the European Medicines Agency on whether the death of the 39-year-old British woman this week was definitively linked to the AstraZeneca jab. A small number of other incidents have been reported of blood clots developing in individuals who had earlier received an AstraZeneca shot.
Health officials say the rate of infection on the east Mediterranean island nation of approximately 900,000 has decreased largely because of the government’s hastened vaccination program. Some 50.4% of the population has so far received at least one vaccine shot while 23.7% have been fully vaccinated.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said Cyprus expects delivery next month of 201,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 24,000 doses of Moderna, 35,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson and 90,000 doses of AstraZeneca.