The loss of data protection upon a person’s death under Cypriot law has emerged in public debate over how the country deals with an aspect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing privacy concerns, the health ministry has stopped providing vaccination details of patients who died after being infected with coronavirus.

Adding vaccination histories in reported deaths in the daily updates “ended up causing more uncertainty over the effectiveness of vaccines and the overall vaccination programme,” according to the ministry.

Officials argued that omitting vaccination history altogether was a better choice than breaching privacy. That would include having to give the dates of vaccination, date of infection, date of admission to hospital, whether someone fell ill before or after getting the vaccine, or whether a death took place before post-vaccination immunity could be built up in the body.

The country’s commissioner for personal data protection Irene Loizidou said Cypriot law currently does not grant privacy protection after death.

“Legal entities and the deceased, based on the legislative framework, do not have data privacy,” she was quoted as saying by K News, the online version of Cypriot newspaper Kathimerini.

Loizidou, who said her office had received enquiries about the issue, suggested the health ministry may have taken the decision to withhold vaccination history in reported Covid-19 deaths “possibly for other reasons, but certainly not for information privacy.”