AstraZeneca has confirmed that a consignment of the COVID-19 vaccine sent to Malta on Sunday can be used, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry sought advice from the manufacturer over concerns about a temperature probe attached to the shipment by the manufacturer.

Health Minister Chris Fearne explained on Tuesday that another temperature probe, installed by the Maltese authorities, had recorded the temperature correctly, but the authorities wanted to be '200 per cent sure' that the 'cold-cycle' was observed throughout the shipment process.

In a statement, the ministry said it had now been officially informed after verification that the temperature was kept within the established parameters throughout the consignment's shipment to Malta.

This was the first consignment from AstraZeneca, which the EU's medicine's authority approved for use last month. 

The number of doses contained in the assignment was not revealed but Fearne has previously said Malta has secured more than a million doses of the jab, meaning it could be a game changer for the island's vaccination programme.

The ministry said the vaccines' rollout can now continue as planned and that the AstraZeneca jab will be administered to non-medical frontliners who are under 55 years of age.

Fearne said last week the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be given to people older than 55 because there aren't enough studies to fully show its efficacy on older people.

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