Malta and Gozo will have access to a COVID-19 vaccine the moment it is made available in Europe, Health Minister Chris Fearne has said.
“Malta has bilateral and multilateral agreements with other governments so that, when there is a vaccine, Maltese and Gozitan patients will have access to it,” Fearne said in a press conference earlier today.
Several pharmaceutical companies are working to find a vaccine for the virus which struck Europe earlier this year. One of them, AstraZenenca, has already signed an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA) to supply up to 400 million doses of the potential vaccine by the end of this year.
Fearne confirmed that Malta forms part of this joint procurement which means that the country will secure a set amount of vaccine doses once available.
At the moment, the vaccine is still in clinical trials and, if successful, should start delivering by the end of 2020.
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soirot said the firm is taking a risk by manufacturing the vaccine now before clinical trials have concluded.
“We want to be as fast as possible,” he told the BBC. “Of course, with this decision comes a risk but it’s a financial risk and that financial risk is the vaccine doesn’t work. Then all the materials, all the vaccines, we’ve manufactured will be wasted.”