Greek Cypriot news sites on Sunday picked up a story on EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, following reports of a media stake out at the health chief’s Nicosia residence amid fierce criticism over vaccine delays.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, reporters from Bild newspaper were seen over the weekend outside Kyriakides’ home in Nicosia, just days following a critical report by the German tabloid about vaccine delays within the European Union.
Athens-based Bild reporter Liana Spyropoulou, who co-authored a critical story about Kyriakides last week, was seen in a photo with colleagues standing in the Cypriot commissioner’s neighborhood in the Ayios Andreas borough.
Local media said the journalists sought to interview neighbors about the commissioner’s whereabouts over the weekend, while Kyriakides was thought to be in Brussels at the time according to Kathimerini.
Many questions have been raised and a fierce debate has been unraveling in Europe over vaccination delays, with critics and some politicians pointing a finger at Kyriakides, as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, over problems in the bloc’s game plan for procuring vaccines.
But Bild took things further with a story on Kyriakides where her ability to handle the vaccine crisis was brought into question along with a photo from the Cypriot commissioner’s Instagram account back in September 2020 where she wrote she was enjoying a moment after a busy week.
Spyropoulou tweeted her story last Thursday on her personal account, saying Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn had warned outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel about Kyriakides.
“Spahn warned Chancellor Merkel about Commissioner Kyriakides. This is how she was buying vaccines from her balcony with her feet up,” Spoyropoulou wrote, referring to the photo taken from the European health chief’s Instagram account.
Kyriakides, who was perturbed over delays with AstraZeneca’s failure to deliver quickly large quantities of the vaccine to the EU, had written a letter to the pharmaceutical company last month saying the firm’s response had “not been satisfactory.”
But the EU’s bureaucracy on a vaccination procurement strategy has also been criticized by media and political pundits for being “too centralized” after the European Commission was entrusted with cutting deals with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of all member states.
Unlike the US and Britain, where governments and companies hit the ground running by managing to vaccinate more people, the EU was said to have fallen behind due to several months of delay in signing contracts and approving vaccines.
But this week EU leaders defended the bloc’s approach as being “stable,” with Merkel saying “I don’t think anything has gone wrong.”
Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron also reiterated that any adult who wanted to get vaccinated by summer would be able to do so.
“I defend the strategy we have adopted with Germany, with the EU,” Macron said.