Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne said the Delta variant was now predominant in Europe and said that in Malta until last week, 95 per cent of cases were due to this variant. The Minister said that because many people were vaccinated in Malta, this variant did not affect us as in the same way it affected other countries where the vaccination roll-out is still low.
Dr Fearne said that as of Wednesday, 86 percent of Maltese adults had been fully vaccinated, while 88 percent of adults had taken the first dose. He said that among children between the ages of 12 and 15, 86 percent had taken the first dose and 39 percent were fully vaccinated.
The Deputy Prime Minister went on to say that currently 35 people are being treated at Mater Dei hospital, 4 of them in the Intensive Care Unit. He claimed that 3 of those in the ITU are not vaccinated, including a pregnant woman and another person who suffers from an immune deficiency condition. Dr Fearne said the last time we had 1,300 active cases was during the last week of December and at the time there were 160 people in hospital. This, he said, further reinforces the science: that the vaccine offers strong protection against Covid 19.
He also referred to the advice given in connection with pregnant women and said that the health authorities in Malta follow the advice of the Malta College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which according to him is a clear example of how scientific information evolves.
“Now it seems that the risks of not getting the vaccine, both for you and the baby, are much higher than the risks of the vaccine itself. So the Malta College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Chairperson of the Department of Obs and Gynae are advising us to modify our advice slightly and women who are in the second or and third trimester of their pregnancy, on the advice of their doctor, are being encouraged to get the vaccine ”.
As far as the third dose of the vaccine, the booster shot, Dr Fearne said authorities had looked at the level of immunity in the country and claimed there appeared to be no significant reduction in those who had received the vaccine six months ago. He said that as a result, a decision was taken to give the booster from mid next September to the residents in the homes of the elderly and vulnerable people, among them those who are taking chemotherapy or other medicine and who have a low level of immunity. He said these people would be receiving an appointment to take the booster.
Asked by TVM whether Malta will benefit from the agreement reached by the European Commission for the Novavax vaccine, Dr Fearne said that Malta had a number of vaccines booked with this company. He explained that this will not be used as a first dose, but Malta would keep a reserve of the Novavax vaccine so that if it works against another variant it can be used immediately.
The Superintendent of Public Health, Professor Charmaine Gauci, said that in early July, 60 per cent of cases were imported, while today imported cases have dropped to 20 per cent. She said this shows that the measures taken worked and mentioned the English language students which accounted for more than 700 positive cases. Professor Gauci said these schools can now operate provided all students are vaccinated.