Is the government speaking the truth when it comes to herd immunity?

Blog post Marica Micallef

On Monday 24th May, our authorities have informed us that we have reached herd immunity and with it, came new measures. Yet, I do not buy it.

Firstly, up to as late as last month, in the first week of April, Dr Fearne was reported saying in one of the conferences that the government’s intention was to reach herd immunity by the end of September.  Then, this target was brought forward to mid-August because the government calculated that Malta would have offered a vaccine to the entire population by Santa Marija.[1] However, up to till this date, we do not have all the Maltese population vaccinated, right? Besides, why do the authorities take it for granted that all the Maltese people and those living in Malta, will go for the vaccine? There are people who do not buy the media’s and the government’s propaganda. There are people who do not conform.

Then, on 12th May, Malta Today reported that the Maltese authorities would have reached herd immunity by the 19th of May, [2] a prediction which did not come true. At times, I think it is better for the media and the authorities not to speak at all rather than play a ping-pong game with dates and numbers! Are they trying to pull us from a string, as if we are puppets?

The percentage which is quoted to be needed for a country to reach herd immunity, that of 70%, also creates confusion. The Malta Today reported that “According to the World Health Organisation the PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION THAT MUST BE VACCINATED against COVID-19 to induce herd immunity IS NOT KNOWN. This is an area where research is ongoing.”  On the other hand, it was the European Health Authorities which came up with the 70% quota. Who do you believe? In all this confusion, with no clear statements and no consistency, do you feel like you are being messed up with?

Another illusion in all this confusion is whether this 70% is calculated on the total amount of all the population or else on the amount of those who received the vaccine. According to The Times of Malta, this is calculated on the adult population, as seen in the sub headline of the article “Mask rule relaxed from July as Malta ‘achieves herd immunity’ – 70 per cent of ADULT POPULATION will have received ONE DOSE by Monday evening”.[3]  So, what about the rest of the population? After all the fear mongering about the virus and its transmission, aren’t the younger population still in danger? Or is this percentage of the adult population enough? Why doesn’t this 70% apply to the whole population, meaning that 360,194 of the whole Malta would have to be vaccinated, and not the 175,000 which the Times of Malta mentions in its article[4]. A paragraph in this article reads that “Data indicates that as of Saturday, 301,274 had received at least one vaccine dose, with 175,246 considered fully vaccinated.” Now this also creates more inconsistencies. This is because “Authorities have said that they consider a person to be ‘vaccinated’ in terms of data collection, even if they have only received one dose.[5] So, if one dose is enough, why the second dose? And what happens between the first and the second dose? Will the second dose prolong the herd immunity period?

To add more confusion, the Times of Malta writes that “It is not clear if the EU target was for one or two doses of the vaccine” when it comes to reaching herd immunity[6]. Really? Is there something clear and certain in this pandemic? If Malta has always been following orders from WHO and EU, how come it came up with its own theories and standards, when these differ from the same WHO and EU? Did the health authorities come up with this, so to attract tourists? All this makes me wonder if those in power alter the facts to fit their views instead of altering their views to fit the facts.







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