“Malta’s realistic but ambitious target is that, by the end of September, we will have vaccinated 70% of our population.” This target was expressed by Malta’s Minister for Health Chris Fearne in an interview with Euronews.
The interview came ahead of a European leaders meeting on Thursday which will look for ways to boost production and at the same time increase vaccine deliveries and vaccinations themselves.
“Safety and procedures have the priority,” a senior EU official said when asked about the various letters from member states requesting that the approval of new vaccines by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) be sped up.
EMA is set to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of this month. This would be one month after the UK approved it, which has led to criticism over the EU’s approval procedures.
“On whether the EU strategy was too slow, Fearne disagrees. It was particularly important for a small country like Malta to get joint procurement as a bloc. There are different advantages. The first advantage, of course, is that when we negotiate as a bloc with the pharmaceutical industry we have much stronger negotiating power than if we negotiate as separate authorities or separate member states. But even more than that, it’s price transparency. By procuring together, then we managed to keep the prices down,” said Fearne.
Fearne also spoke about the vaccination certificates. “Vaccination certificates for the red zone will enable these citizens to travel even though their community has a high level of the virus,” he said. But, he adds, a similar level of vaccinations is needed across Europe, hitting the targets for vaccinating different parts of the population by May.
“That’s why this will enable us to open up our economies as a bloc and will enable tourism and trade to recover at a faster rate.”