Between 50 and 60 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were lost on Wednesday because of delays as a result of union action, Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed. 

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Fearne said the vaccines were typically being mixed in the place where they were being administered "to avoid wastage". However, the procedure changed recently after directives were issued by the nurses' union. 

"Earlier this week, MUMN issued a directive for health centre nurses to limit the number of vials that are reconstituted on site. Because we have increased the number of vaccines given daily,  we had to rapidly change the system we were used to and started reconstituting a number of vaccines from a central location and delivering the vaccine ready to be taken.

"When you have to change the system very quickly a lapse is inevitable and because of this situation there was, yesterday (Wednesday), a delay of a few hours in delivering those vaccines with 10 vials being lost as a result," Fearne said. 

10 vials amount to between 50 and 60 doses, Times of Malta is told. 

Although the number is relatively small compared to the thousands of doses being given out, every dose is worth "more than gold" because it could mean saving a patient’s life, Fearne said. 

"I am the first person to support unions and the issuing of directives to stand up for worker’s rights and I’m not going into to merits of this case. But I appeal to all unions and whoever is involved in any way in this delicate process, to band together and move in the same direction so we get through this delicate process," the minister said. 

The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines started being administered after Christmas and by Wednesday, a total of 31,633 had been given out. Of those, 5,410 were second doses. 


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