France’s out-of-the-box suggestion for catching up with its EU peers in the COVID-19 vaccine race made global headlines last week, but Malta’s health authorities have now confirmed this will not be affecting the island’s inoculation plans in any way.
Last Friday, news quickly spread about France’s latest recommendation that people who have already recovered from COVID-19 should only receive a single vaccine dose (the second, “booster” dose).
This, France’s public health authority argued, was because people who had previously fought the virus could have as much as ten times the amount of antibodies as the ones in the first vaccine jab.
Another published paper wielded more cautious results, saying the immunity in individuals who had had COVID-19 and then received a single vaccine dose “is equal to or even exceeds” that of people who had never had COVD-19 and received two vaccine doses.
“A single vaccine dose will also play the role of reminding” people’s immune system how to fight the virus, the French experts continued, going on to suggest a gap of between three and six months after infection for the jab.
And while, as the authority stated, “at the moment no country has clearly positioned itself in terms of a sole vaccination dose for people who have already contracted COVID-19”, the interest in France’s suggestion and its potential speeding up of inoculations quickly got people talking.
Despite this recommendation gaining global traction, however, Malta’s health authorities have confirmed with this newsroom that there are currently no plans in place to adopt a similar strategy on the island.
“Malta will continue with its current plan for COVID-19 vaccination and will vaccinate all citizens with two doses,” a Health Ministry spokesperson told Lovin Malta.
Of course, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
After all, Malta is still currently ahead of most countries within the EU bloc and around the world without having to adopt any novel method of vaccinating its citizens. Moreover, local health authorities have up till now always erred on the side of caution when it comes to the national vaccination drive, choosing for example not to inoculate anyone under 16 years of age until proper studies on this group are conducted and published.
To top it all off, Malta’s current vaccination plan seems to be ready for the worst-case scenario, with everyone’s second dose already specifically reserved for them the moment they get the first jab (a tactic that some countries are ignoring in a high-risk, high-reward attempt to bolster their own vaccination drives).
Many countries – not to mention event promoters, festival organisers and club owners – are now hoping for an imminent approval and arrival of the Johnson & Johnson jab, a vaccine that only requires one dose. Last week, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that Malta is planning on receiving around 250,000 doses of this fourth vaccine, and that this should arrive on the island as early as March.
Meanwhile, at the time of writing, 21,160 people in Malta have now received their second dose.
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