Health Minister Chris Fearne has said national focus could shift away from daily COVID-19 infections and towards hospitalisation numbers if the number of hospital admissions remains low in the coming weeks.
Interviewed on Pjazza this evening, Fearne said experience has shown the health authorities that COVID-19 hospitalisations tend to rise two or three weeks after a spike in cases.
Malta is currently experiencing such a spike and the number of active cases reached 1,000 today, but unlike earlier on in the pandemic, the vast majority of the population (over 80%) has now been fully vaccinated.
“We need to wait and see if the current increase in cases will translate into an increase in ITU patients in the coming weeks,” he said. “From the experience of other countries which vaccinated a lot of people [such as the UK and Israel] and from what we can see in Malta so far, there is a very good possibility that this won’t happen which would mean that the vaccine is working.”
“It doesn’t mean that you won’t get infected but that you won’t get hospitalised and ultimately that’s what we’re after.”
He said that if this proves to be the case, it will mean “we can start caring less about numbers in the community and more on hospitalisation numbers”.
“Until we can say this with certainty, we must wait for the next few weeks to pass.”
During the interview, Fearne also confirmed that Malta has enough booster vaccine doses in stock to see the nation through until 2023, with further studies necessary to determine when and if they would be needed.