A Maltese man who lives in Italy and is only eligible for a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is urging the health authorities to try to understand his predicament before forcing him to spend two weeks in a quarantine hotel.
Francesco Darmanin and his wife contracted COVID-19 back in November. When it was time to apply for their vaccine in Italy, he was informed by the health authorities that anyone who recovered from the virus in the past 12 months will only need one dose.
Some EU countries, including Italy, Germany and Portugal, only administer a single shot of a vaccine if a patient has recently recovered from the virus and has some level of immunity.
Yet, despite a recent change in Malta’s COVID-19 travel rules, vaccine certificate holders who are only eligible for one dose of a jab must still quarantine for 14 days when arriving in Malta, even though their certificate is EU recognised.
Since Darmanin does not have a permanent residence here he will have to go to a quarantine hotel at a minimum cost of €1,400.
“Both my wife and I have a vaccination certificate that shows we have one Pfizer shot that is valid for nine months,” Darmanin said.
He last visited the island in June just before Malta required all travellers to present a recognised vaccine certificate.
“Since then, we are now stuck in the situation where we cannot visit our friends and family without the need to quarantine for 14 days. I cannot understand why we cannot take a PCR test or why our EU vaccination certificates are not valid in Malta.
“I just want to visit my home country and spend time with my grandparents, who are too old to visit us in Perugia. I have a friend who is delaying his wedding because I am his best man and is waiting for me to come home.”
'Those are the regulations' - minister
Realising his appeals were falling on deaf ears, Darmanin decided to try his luck and contacted Health Minister Chris Fearne to explain his situation.
The reply, however, was disappointing.
“Francesco, those are the regulations,” the minister replied.
“That reply just adds insult to injury. After contracting the virus, following all the regulations and getting vaccinated, we are still stuck in this situation,” he said.
“I am not travelling for a holiday. I want to visit my home country.”
While acknowledging the need for caution, Darmanin said he felt that having to quarantine for 14 days is “excessive”.
“I am more than happy to pay a PCR test, which is double the price of our flights, rather than having to spend all that time inside. With work commitments, I cannot afford 14 days in quarantine.”
Replying to questions on the subject, a health spokesperson said the authorities will continue to follow the current standards for quarantine.
According to a technical report released by ECDC earlier this month, there is still not enough data on the long-term protective immunity.
“There is also currently very limited evidence on clinical endpoints – such as the risk of laboratory-confirmed infection and symptomatic disease – for previously infected individuals receiving one dose of a vaccine intended as a two-dose regimen,” the ECDC said.