Malta to acquire 80,000 more doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Robert Abela says

Cabinet has authorised an increased spend of €2 million to buy 80,000 more doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister tells parliament as row between EU and AstraZeneca over reduced deliveries intensifies

Malta will acquire more COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna
Malta will acquire more COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna

Malta will be buying 80,000 more doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a bid to intensify the inoculation programme over the coming weeks.

Prime Minister Robert Abela told parliament on Tuesday evening that Cabinet authorised an increased spend of €2 million to acquire the additional vaccine doses from Moderna. He also announced the arrival of more than 14,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Moderna is one of two coronavirus vaccines so far authorised by the European Medicines Agency, the other being Pfizer-BioNTech. Malta ordered 100,000 doses of the vaccine from Moderna and 670,000 from Pfizer.

Abela’s announcement comes on the back of a growing row between the EU and vaccine maker AstraZeneca that announced last week it will cut supplies to the 27-member bloc.

Malta has a million vaccine doses ordered from AstraZeneca, which is expecting to receive EU approval by the end of the week.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 vaccine makers ‘must deliver’, European Commission chief warns

Health Minister Chris Fearne said efforts were underway to increase the overall Moderna vaccine doses to 270,000 as a backup plan in the eventuality that vaccines from other manufacturers are delayed.

Abela said the additional vaccines ordered from Moderna and the arrival of the fresh batch of Pfizer vaccines form part of government’s efforts to intensify the vaccine rollout over the coming weeks.

He was delivering a ministerial statement in parliament on last week’s online meeting of European leaders that discussed the new COVID-19 variants and a common approach to travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Opposition leader Bernard Grech called out the government for not using community pharmacies and clinics to distribute the coronavirus vaccine, insisting the rollout was not as fast as expected.

Grech also asked the Prime Minister to flesh out what additional restrictive measures the government was considering for February, something Abela announced earlier in the day.

Abela was also asked by Nationalist MP David Thake to substantiate claims that Malta was in pole position to achieve herd immunity and return back to normal by May.

The Prime Minister accused the Opposition of wanting extreme restrictive measures, which were unnecessary and risked creating a backlash.

Abela said he welcomed the Opposition’s U-turn on lockdowns and was now advocating against them.

In a combative mood, Abela insisted government will adopt a balanced approach.

“We do not want to risk all the progress achieved because of one carnival weekend in February… we will seek a balanced approach in new restrictive measures that will not include a lockdown or curfews,” the Prime Minister said.

READ ALSO: Health Minister Chris Fearne, Opposition spokesperson administered COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination rollout

Health Minister Chris Fearne gave a breakdown of the vaccine rollout over the coming days. He said that vaccines normally arrive in Malta every Monday and by the following Monday these are distributed all, bar the second dose which is immediately reserved for the individual.

“We are on track but this does not mean we can reduce vigilance just now… Science and solidarity will see us win this battle and return back to normal,” he said.

Timeline

  • From Wednesday 27 January, vaccinations will start being given to cancer patients awaiting therapy
  • From Thursday 28 January, appointments will start being issued to people living in the community who are 80 years and older
  • From the end of this week pharmacists will be the frontliners next in line to start receiving the jab
  • From Wednesday, next week members of the police force, the army, environmental health protection, CPD and other non-medical front liners will start receiving the vaccine

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