Prime Minister defends 'aggressive' COVID-19 vaccine purchases

'We won't be first in the EU for vaccinations per capita if we don't order extra vaccines' 

Prime Minister Robert Abela defended Malta's "aggressive" COVID-19 vaccine purchasing strategy, saying that government is doing what's necessary to ensure Malta is on the front foot for vaccinating the public.

"This investment shows that government is making sure that we are on the front line of vaccinating our people - and you can't be among the front row if you don't get extra vaccines," he said during a political interview on the Labour Party's television station.

On Friday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called out Malta for its excess vaccine supply, with Malta slated to have three times more vaccine doses relative to its population by the end of June than Bulgaria. 

Abela noted this, and went on to appeal to the Opposition to join government and help continue to bring as many doses as possible to vaccinate the Maltese population.

The Prime Minister admitted that introducing new measures on Wednesday was a tough decision, taken once discussions were held with health authorities. 

He insisted that all measures are taken on the basis of scientific advice, while maintaining a balance between lives and livelihood through the support of the wage supplement and economic injections.

Abela said that government will work to continue attractive investment to Malta, so that the economic growth generated will allow for more protection and better health services.

Several medical consultants were present via video call, including respiratory physician Stephen Montfort, who said that studies have found the UK COVID-19 variant to be more contagious and possibly more severe.

"This might not result in more deaths, there could be more hospitalisations but not deaths," he said.