Malta is pushing Brussels to plan in advance for the purchase of third doses of COVID-19 vaccines if scientists find an additional booster is needed.

In a letter seen by Times of Malta, Health Minister Chris Fearne told European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, that if there is evidence a third vaccine dose is required to ensure immunity from the virus, “it is important that it is made available to member states when required”.

Fearne said the EU should not be “caught off guard” and so it was crucial to “plan in advance”.

Malta received the first consignments of the Pfizer vaccine on Boxing Day and consignments have since been received every week, although the latest is the biggest. 

Important that it is made available to member states when required

On the manufacturer’s advice, half the supplies are being kept in freezers for the second dose to be given three weeks after the first is administered.

Malta has ordered 750,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna combined.

A million doses have been ordered from AstraZeneca but the vaccine has still to be approved by the European Medicines Agency and most initial production is going to the UK.

In his letter, Fearne said he hoped for a “thorough but swift assessment” of the application by AstraZeneca.

So far, the Maltese health authorities have administered 22,371 jabs, including 1,694 second doses.

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