Member States are still not keeping pace. This Thursday, European leaders will discuss how to coordinate a vaccination strategy at the European level, following the Commission’s proposal that national governments vaccinate 70% of adults before summer. A measure we discussed with the Maltese Minister of Health, Christopher Fearne.
Christopher Fearne: “I think the realistic goals are that By the end of March we will have vaccinated all our medical staff and people over 80 years of age. And this should be true throughout Europe. By the end of May, we should have vaccinated everyone over 70 and people with chronic diseases. Specifically, all vulnerable groups in our society. The real realistic goal, albeit an ambitious one, is that by the end of September, we will have vaccinated 70 percent of our population“.
Euronews: The EU has been criticized for the slow rollout of the vaccination campaign. Do you share the view that the EU could have acted faster, like the UK, the US or Israel?
Christopher Fearne: “No, I don’t think so. We have managed to do it together. Malta, despite being a small country, has always pushed for the last 7 years to make decisions together. That has advantages. When we negotiate en bloc with the pharmaceutical industry we have much stronger bargaining power than if we negotiate as separate authorities or separate member states. But even more than that, what is achieved is price transparency. By doing joint acquisitions, we managed to keep prices low. “
Euronews: We know that Malta is a holiday destination whose economy is highly dependent on tourism. Do you think we need vaccination passports to relaunch the tourism industry and in general to facilitate international travel?
Christopher Fearne: “It is just another tool that would allow countries to open up more. There are already citizens who live in so-called green zone countries, where travel is not restricted, and then there are citizens who are in countries classified as red zone. Vaccination certificates For the red zone they will allow these citizens to travel even if their community has a high level of the virus. We have to make sure that we are all vaccinating in a similar way to be able to reach the objectives that I have already mentioned. We must think about the objectives of March, May and September. This is what will allow us to open our economies as a bloc and allow tourism and trade to recover at a faster rate. “