Valletta, Malta

Malta becomes first EU country to achieve herd immunity

Malta becomes first EU country to achieve herd immunity

With 70 percent of adults jabbed, gyms, swimming pools and day centres reopen, eateries can serve customers until late, mask-wearing on beaches ends for vaccinees

70 percent of Maltese adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 42 percent have been fully vaccinated. This makes Malta the first EU member state to achieve mass immunity, also known as herd immunity, Minister for Health Chris Fearne announced at a press conference on Monday.

Giving a jab every 5 seconds

Fearne, quoted by TVM, reported that a total of 475,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Malta, with 8,000 doses given daily on certain days, which is equivalent to inoculating people every 5 seconds. These figures stand in stark contrast to the vaccine rollout reality in many other countries and on a global scale, as only 10 percent of the world’s population has been vaccinated.

Over the past week, the island nation with a population of about 440,000 has confirmed an average of three new coronavirus cases a day, with testing positivity rate staying at 0.2 percent. Minister Fearne quoted an article published in The Economist, which put global mortality from Covid since the outbreak of the pandemic to about 10 million people. He compared these gruesome numbers to what is happening in Malta, where he said there is not a single Covid patient now treated in intensive care unit.

Restrictions eased

Due to the optimistic epidemiological outlook, as of Monday the government has allowed gyms, swimming pools and day centres to reopen. The opening hours of restaurants which previously had to close at 5 p.m., have been extended until midnight. 

During his press conference, the health minister also said that anyone vaccinated will no longer need to wear a mask on the beach from 1 June. And if the vaccination rollout continues at the same rate, from 1 July vaccinees will not have to wear masks in outdoor public places.

The vaccine certificate will also be launched in July. Fearne hinted at a possible relaxation of the remaining curbs on cultural, social and religious activities from July, which he said was a topic of government discussions now underway.

Triumph and caution

Hailing the announcement on the health minister’s Facebook page, here is what one user wrote: “A very big well done Dr. Fearne and all the team. Now we have to be extra cautious when passengers start arriving here. I hope that passengers travelling to Malta who do not produce a vaccine certificate or a recent swab test will be denied boarding.”



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