Covid Vaccine

At current national vaccination rates, assuming all continue on track, the vast majority of those in Malta’s key tourism markets will be fully vaccinated and permitted to travel in 94 days, BusinessNow.mt has calculated.

Calculations, using fortnightly COVID vaccination rates and assuming uptake plateaus at 80 per cent (the uptake level in Malta, the world’s most vaccinated country), show that peak vaccination levels in Malta’s five key tourism markets – the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain – will be hit within 80 days.

Under current rules, tourists are allowed to travel to Malta 14 days after receiving their final vaccine dose, meaning these potential travellers would be able to visit Malta in 94 days.

Unvaccinated tourists are still permitted to enter but will be required to isolate for 14 days, in most cases at a Government sanctioned quarantine hotel – at their own expense.

Together, the aforementioned countries contributed some 1.6 million tourists, or 58 per cent of all arrivals in 2019, according to official NSO data, and 53 per cent of the tourism expenditure.

Italy is currently running ahead in its vaccination programme, set to hit the 80 per cent milestone in 43 days. As of 1st August, it had fully vaccinated 52 per cent of its population, at a daily rate averaging 0.6 per cent in the two weeks prior.

The slowest to reach 80 per cent fully vaccinated seems likely to be the UK, which is Malta’s single largest tourism market, contributing nearly 650,000 of the country’s incoming tourists in 2019.

As things stand the country has full vaccination coverage of 57 per cent, and in the last two weeks vaccinated an average of 0.2 per cent of the population daily.

At this rate, 80 per cent of the country’s population will be fully vaccinated in 80 days.

The other countries seem set to hit the 80 per cent mark (based on the same calculations) in 44 days (Spain), 64 days (France) and 65 days (Germany).

This could not come soon enough, as Malta is reportedly suffering a major loss in tourism expenditure due to the stringent restrictions on international travel released last month.

According to calculations from the Times of Malta, based on average tourism expenditure and flight cancellations, following the announcement that only fully-vaccinated tourists would be able to travel to the country, the country lost €12 million in tourism revenue in July alone.

Despite the speculative figures, however, it is worth noting that pandemic uncertainty continues to reign supreme.

A number of supply issues could arise with the vaccine, disrupting its rollout.

Additionally, developments in the virus itself might see how vaccines are given altered. For example, in light of the more contagious Delta variant which existing vaccines seem less effective at preventing, some authorities are introducing a third, booster dose.

Furthermore, it is not yet clear that uptake will hit 80 per cent of populations. In fact, surveys have suggested that in some countries, the uptake level will fall short of this figure.

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