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Minister Sacramento’s Script: COVID-19 Press Conference - 282/2021

April 08, 2021

Good afternoon everyone,

Being back here for a press conference reminds me of where we found ourselves a year ago and what we have been through as a community since then.

It is with great pleasure that today when I address you, I can report on the positive progress as a result of our vaccination programme and, thanks to the huge take up by our community, we have very much been able to achieve a successful ‘Operation Freedom’.

Tomorrow will be exactly 3 months since our vaccines first arrived in Gibraltar. The first consignment, as you may remember, arrived in the late evening on a stormy Saturday the 9th January and consisted of 5850 doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID19 transported to us by our friends in the RAF. 

The first dose was administered sharply at 8am on Sunday the 10th January where commencing with Dr Rawal, all clinical staff commenced their vaccination. The next day, Monday 11th January, the first members of the public were vaccinated. The first such person was Mr Beiso, who at the time was 100 years old and he was followed by 98 year old Mr Cohen. Simultaneously, we were also vaccinating all residents at our Elderly Residential Services.

The GHA staff at the vaccination centres have literally been working non stop since then to ensure that everyone in our population who has wanted the vaccine has been able to receive it as soon as possible. The GHA embarked on the mammoth task of preparing a vaccination strategy for Gibraltar, initially offering the vaccine to all our most vulnerable groups, GHA frontline health workers and all Gibraltar residents over the age of 70.  

I have nothing but praise for everyone in the three vaccination centres; the ERS vaccination team, the St Bernard’s Hospital vaccination team and the one that most of you will have visited, the Public Vaccination Centre at the ICC. 

Since the 9th January, Gibraltar has had available a total of 67848 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The initial strategy was to administer the vaccine to approximately 500 individuals per day, however, on more than one occasion during the last three months, this number was doubled with over 1000 vaccines being administered in a day.  This has all been an incredible achievement that would not have been possible without the contribution of ‘Team Gibraltar’. All priority risk groups have been vaccinated or offered the vaccine and we are currently at our last cohort, Stage 9, the Cross Frontier Workers who are also eligible for the vaccine.  

By close of play last night we have administered a total of 62362 doses of the COVID19 vaccine in Gibraltar. This is broken down to 27430 first doses to Gibraltar residents and 5454 to cross border workers and 25901 second doses to Gibraltar residents and 3577 second doses to cross border workers.  

It is truly remarkable that we have vaccinated 85% of our population as a whole and we have, even more remarkably, vaccinated 98%of our population over the age of 60.  This is an absolute credit to our community and I must thank every single person involved in the administration of the vaccine especially those who have accepted the offer to take up the vaccine.  Our latest consignment of vaccine arrived on Maundy Thursday when we received 7020 doses. 

All in all, our vaccination programme has been a seamless programme which has been possible not only by the involvement of the vaccination teams but also the whole of Gibraltar for the benefit of our Rock.

While I have nothing but praise for everyone who has given their absolute all in achieving this result I would like to take this opportunity to single out Professor Ian Cumming OBE who in chairing the Vaccination Strategy Committee and who led on its delivery for Gibraltar has been instrumental in our success. Professor Cumming is the UK Ambassador for Health to the Overseas Territories and an experienced former NHS and Health Education England Chief Executive as well as an NHS Global Ambassador, Professor of Global Healthcare and the Chairman of the West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust. Professor Cumming has worked tirelessly to ensure Gibraltar had a vaccination strategy that has become a benchmark and a world recognised success story.

Everyone who has worked as a team for “Team Gibraltar’ , from Professor Cumming who chaired the vaccination committee, to every single person who has called the thousands and thousands of people, to all our nurses who have administered the vaccine to everyone who has received them, everyone has been part of our success story, and I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone, collectively, for your tremendous success.

Thank you very much