Largest consignment of vaccine arrived in Malta – “Keeping the same doses would have affected us badly”

The biggest consignment of vaccines arrived in Malta today after almost three weeks since the country has been receiving doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Following last week’s announcment by the Government, thousands of doses arrived today with the vaccines being stored at the Central Procurement and Supplies Unit warehouse.

Engineer Karl Farrugia, the chief executive of this unit responsible for the purchase, storing and distribution of the vaccine, told TVM that this was possible because Malta had long negotiated in this regard. TVM visited the building where the vaccine is stored and spoke with Engineer Farrugia.

Great changes are currently underway in the production line of Pfizer-BioNTech in the Belgian village of Puurs, the epicentre of the vaccine production, with the aim that in the coming months the company will be able to meet the ever increasing demand for the Covid vaccine.

Due to this factor, the company last weekend announced that it will reduce the consignments destined to European countries. Despite this development in the race for the vaccine, a consignment consisting of thousands of doses arrived in Malta today – double the intended original amount before these changes occurred in the vaccine distribution.

Engineer Karl Farrugia told TVM that Malta has been for long making efforts to increase the doses that were originally agreed with the pharmaceutical companies that developed the vaccine.

“Malta made prior efforts to communicate with Pfizer to increase the doses before all this happened, therefore when they decided to reduce the doses, it did not affect us that much. If we persisted with the same doses, we would have been very badly affected. With the way we worked today, we should receive a consignment which is double that originally agreed before all the changes were made”.

Engineer Farrugia, who has worked in the public health sector for the past 20 years, said that workers daily prepare the day’s doses by taking the vaccine out of the freezer and leave the adequate temperature of the vaccine to go down during the night.

Trips are being made with an Armed Forces of Malta escort, apart from a 24-hour guard of the vaccine storage by armed forces and security officers.

Engineer Farrugia added that apart from the purchase of the vaccine, during the pandemic months the department was tasked with the purchase of protective equipment, such as masks and visors used daily by public sector workers.

“The investment was not small…during recent months we invested 100 million euro specifically for the protection of workers and all those working in this environment. Apart from the normal purchases of medicines at all government stores, we bring daily stocks in order to serve entities”.

Engineer Farrugia stated that an amount of protective equipment stock, larger than usual, is being kept in halls of some schools which were turned into temporary stores. This will ensure that the country will be ready for any eventuality.