President Nicos Anastasiades said on Sunday he had put out feelers to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu about the possibility of procuring vaccines from Tel Aviv.

In an interview with Politis he said Netanyahu had promised to look into what possibilities were available and he should have an answer in days.

Israel is leading the world in vaccinating its population with 19.5 per cent having received the shot since December 19, including more than 72 per cent of the over-60s

When asked whether this was possible under the common vaccine distribution agreements with the EU, Anastasiades said it was not a matter for the EU.

What counted was that the vaccine was EU approved. Israel is using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which have secured EU approval. Anastasiades said the aim was to speed up vaccinations. Cyprus has only vaccinated around 0.5 per cent of people yet.

Asked about the Russian or Chinese vaccines, as suggested by opposition Akel, the president said there would be a problem as they are not EU approved.

“There is certainly criticism in the EU of the delays,” he said. “The EU has been very slow in deciding on the vaccines. One thing that can be blamed on the EU is that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was given a lot of weight because it was also an EU-funded study. The initial indications were very encouraging but at some point there was a setback in its effectiveness resulting in two companies [Pfizer and Moderna] getting ahead but the number of their vaccines is not enough for rapid and mass vaccinations,” he added.

In the interview, the president also slammed the controversial Bishop of Morphou for his contempt of government Covid decrees.

He said the government was examining the bishop’s statements in consultation with the attorney-general to see if any of the comments constituted a criminal offence.

“There is a tendency on his part, if you will, and I say it very boldly to be ‘heroised’. I do not want to turn cowards into heroes,” he said.

Anastasiades said the Archbishop on the other hand fully supported the government, and publicly.


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