80,000 more doses of the Moderna vaccine were purchased yesterday, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced in parliament.
“A decision in cabinet was made to invest €2 million to get more doses of the vaccine. We managed to obtain 80,000 more doses of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19,” he said.
He said that the government will continue to intensify the roll-out of the vaccine with the aim of accelerating the country’s return to normality so that it comes as soon as possible.
Abela was addressing parliament in a ministerial statement after a European Council meeting last Thursday.
He also announced that 14,040 doses of the Pfizer vaccine also arrived this week and are ready to be used.
The purchase comes as the European Union grapples with possible delays to the supply of vaccines, both on the part of Pfizer but especially on the part of AstraZeneca.
The European Union on Tuesday warned pharmaceutical giants that develop coronavirus vaccines to honour their contractual obligations after slow deliveries of shots from two companies hampered the bloc’s vaunted vaccine rollout in several nations.
Prime Minister Abela said on Monday that he was confident that Malta won’t be affected by any vaccine shortages, and that they country will remain on track to gain herd immunity by the end of summer.
21,172 doses of the vaccine were administered as of Monday. 1,463 people have received both doses of the vaccine so far, authorities said. Abela noted that Malta is the country which is vaccinating its people fastest in the European Union, something which has happened as a result of a clear plan and the government’s every day decisions.
Abela said that countries had discussed the vaccination issue at length, and some countries had also asked for permission to start distributing AstraZeneca vaccines before they are certified for use by the European Union’s medical authority – the EMA – which is set to meet at the end of this week. Here, Abela said, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for caution.
The subject of the new Covid-19 variants – which have added a new dimension to the pandemic as of late – was also discussed, Abela said, with the Commission insisting that genetic sequencing testing in order to identify these new strains intensify across the bloc.
European leaders agree on ‘proof of vaccination’ certificate
Abela revealed that at the same meeting, European leaders agreed on the need for some sort of ‘proof of vaccination’ certificate which is coordinated between the whole bloc and which is accepted in all countries in the EU.
Discussions on which circumstances such a certification can be used will take place in the future.
Abela said that on this point he, like many other leaders, had written to von der Leyen in order to express his belief that a vaccination certificate can be an important tool to facilitate free movement of people.
Government working to increase Moderna doses to 270,000 – Deputy Prime Minister Fearne
Malta is also in the process of trying to obtain a total of 270,000, including the ones that have already been bought, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne added.
“We made effort to obtain more doses of Moderna. We now have 80,000 more and want to increase them to 270,000 in total from Moderna,” Fearne said in Parliament.
“If more of our requests get approved and arrive, the better it would be. We would manage to finish quicker,” he noted.
The Deputy Prime Minister also announced that genetic sequencing will double, so that they can analyse what strain of the virus is spreading in the community. He also played down any fears that vaccines do not work against variants.
“Moderna said that the vaccines work on the UK variant, but they are not certain if there needs to be booster dose.”
He mentioned that even if we do, he has already been in contact with the EU Health Commission so that the same procurement process of buying the vaccines can be replicated when buying boosters if need be.
“Last week I wrote to the commissioner to encourage the whole of Europe to work as we did to obtain all vaccines in a fair manner between all countries as a joint procurement, the boosters should also be done the same.”
He also noted how what the next process of vaccination will be. “Tomorrow we will start administering the vaccine to those who suffer from cancer. From Thursday next week, we will start administering it to the other frontlines, like the army, the CPD, and so forth,” he revealed.
“We are on track.”