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nuevo-articuloGovernment’s primary aim to keep the death toll low and not overwhelm national hospitals

Governments have had two primary aims when taking decisions to combat COVID-19: the first to keep the death toll as low as possible; the second not to overwhelm national hospitals.

With over 80% of the population vaccinated, government has been able to do both while easing restrictions considerably.

The partial lockdown announced in March provided almost instant relief for Malta’s hospitals. Two weeks after schools and non-essential shops closed down, hospitalisations fell from 245 to 143. In just one month, they fell further to 64 patients.

This sharp decline cannot be fully attributed to rising vaccinations. It was only between April and May that the vaccination drive went into full force. Those who took their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in February were now eligible for their second jab, and vaccinations were rapidly opening to lower age groups.

Hospitalisations before and after

Hospitalisations are correlated with infections, so any drop in active cases would lead to fewer hospital admissions. However, the vaccine seems to be weakening this correlation.

The recent spike in cases isn’t the first time Malta had 2,000 active cases on its shores, but hospitalisations were far higher back then. Last Wednesday, there were 15 patients being treated at Mater Dei Hospital. Last March, hospitalised patients numbered at around 250.

This despite that the Delta variant is between 40-60% more transmissible than the Alpha (UK) variant, and that fewer measures are in place now compared to the winter months. However, it must be said that the Delta variant has not become the main strain among local cases yet.

Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said on Wednesday that there have been 64 cases of the Delta variant in Malta. For comparison, Malta registered well over 2,000 new infections since June.

Other factors may be keeping hospitalisations low.

New cases are mostly being registered in the 10-39 age group, where hospitalisations were never too common. According to information from the health authorities, the highest proportion of cases is being seen among the under-19s.

The effects of the current spike might be delayed slightly. Active cases started to rise exponentially two weeks ago, so a mild spike in hospitalisations could still be on the cards

Vaccine efficacy

Vaccines appear to be working, but scientists don’t yet know for how long vaccine


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