Malta is expected to start rolling out the first COVID-19 vaccines by the first week of 2021 after Europe’s medicines regulator imposed a December 29 deadline to grant its approval.

Health Minister Chris Fearne told Times of Malta thousands of vaccines will be making their way to Malta the day after the Pfizer/Biontech vaccination is given the green light by the European Medicines Agency.

Quoted in Politico during an EU health ministers meeting, Fearne praised the EU’s efforts to jointly procure a coronavirus vaccine, but said it might be helpful for the EMA to “explain to us, and more importantly to the wider European general public”, the reason for the lag in its decision after the UK decided to start disseminating it at once.

Contacted on Thursday, Fearne said the EMA was carrying out very detailed studies of the vaccine, with trials showing it offers up to 95% protection against COVID-19 illness.

The minister confirmed that up to half a million vaccinations from Pfizer/Biontech will be made available to Malta over a period of months, with the vulnerable, the elderly and frontliners being eligible to receive it first.

Malta will also be obtaining tens of thousands of vaccinations from Moderna starting from mid-January. But Fearne warned that the impending vaccinations do not mean that people are to let their guard down or tha restrictions will be removed overnight.

“We can’t relax the measures at once, the process will take some months, but we’re optimistic we could vaccinate the Maltese population within six months. We’ve started on the road to recovery.”

A total of 148 people have died with coronavirus in Malta, many in the last weeks, as the pandemic reaches its second wave. More than 10,000 people have been infected since the first case was reported in March.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.