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Malta will receive COVID-19 vaccine ‘within days’ of release

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Malta will start receiving a brand new COVID-19 vaccine ‘within days’ of its release, said Health Minister Chris Fearne. On Monday, Pfizer, an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation, announced that its advanced clinical trials of a vaccine had yielded a success rate of more than 90%.

The EU said that it’s very close to signing a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech for 300 million doses of the vaccine.

Fearne noted that the development was certainly “good news”, but he also expressed caution. There are still some tests to be carried out to confirm that the vaccine is totally safe, effective and has no side effects, he said.

He did confirm, however, that Pfizer was one of the companies that the EU was dealing with and said that the vaccine will be available in Malta within days of its release on the market. Priority will, of course, be given to the vulnerable and frontline health workers. That being said, Fearne did not say when the vaccine would be available for the whole population, saying that negotiations were still ongoing.

Chris Barbara, clinical chairman of the pathology department of Mater Dei hospital, has a meeting scheduled with the company in the coming days, with a list of questions on the development on the vaccine, including when phase 3 trials will be concluded.

“In real terms, this means the vaccine is managing to elicit immunity – and we know that the way the immune system reacts to COVID-19 is quite complex, with multiple pathways. We were not sure how the virus would react, but today’s results are even more promising,” he said.

virologist and chairman of pathology department Chris Barbara and Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci

the vaccine

Around a dozen vaccines are currently in the final stages of testing worldwide. However, the Pfizer and BioNTech candidate was the first to show results, which have yet to be peer reviewed.

The phase 2 clinical trial, which is the final stage, of the new vaccine named BNT162b2, began last July and has enrolled 43,538 participants to date. 90% of those participants also received a second dose of the vaccine by 8 November.

Based on supply projections, the companies said that they expected to supply up to 50 million doses globally by end of 2020 and up to 1.3 billion by 2021. US biotech firm Moderna, several state-run Chinese labs, and a European project led by the University of Oxford and AsrtraZeneca are thought to be closing in on potentially viable vaccines.