The start of vaccination against the coronavirus is being slower than expected. A week after the campaign began, the figures reveal that the number of doses applied so far is far from the total available to the communities in the first batch. The coincidence with the Christmas holidays and the logistical difficulties are some of the reasons adduced by the regional governments, which are receiving the second batch of vials this Monday and are hoping to accelerate the pace to comply with the plans: having vaccinated about 2, 5 million people and complete the first phase of the strategy by March.
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Although last December 16, Health agreed that the communities should send the vaccination data daily to the Ministry, there is still no official global figure and not all governments make theirs public. However, according to the data of eleven autonomies compiled by eldiario.es, there is great disparity between some territories and others. Cantabria and Madrid, which has opened the door To resort to the private sector to speed up the process, they are the ones that have administered the least: 5% and 6% respectively, while Asturias occupies the first place, with 80% of the vaccines of the first batch already injected. Catalonia has used 13%, Castilla-La Mancha 11%, Andalusia 37% and Galicia 51%.
At the moment, Spain is using the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, the only one authorized by the European Medicines Agency. The agency decided to accelerate the evaluation after pressure from several countries, which brought the start of the campaign forward to Sunday, December 27, with a symbolic administration in nursing homes. Then the communities received the first weekly batch – with some delay due to a logistical failure of the company – which will be repeated every Monday until reaching the 4.5 million doses planned in 12 weeks.
Holidays and logistics problems
The Generalitat de Catalunya, which has administered 7,774 vaccinations of the 60,000 received, has adduced logistical problems with the transport of the refrigerators to preserve the vaccines, which adds to the fact that in the case of residences, the consent of relatives is needed since the vaccination teams have not been fully active these days. On January 1, for example, Catalonia only vaccinated two people, which is why it has announced that it will also vaccinate on holidays. For its part, the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, which has 48,750 weekly doses, qualified this first week in the Community of Madrid for “piloting” and explained that “it was not the best week”, both because of the problems with the distribution of vaccines on Monday, and because of the Christmas holidays, which have made many older people not in the residences. In addition, the general secretary of the PP in Madrid, Ana Camins, attributed it to the Christmas holidays of the personnel in charge of the task.
Cantabria it is the community that has administered the least dose so far. And it is that this region, which now plans to quadruple its rate, only put 5% of the doses received last week, a total of 304 of the 5,850 of the first batch. The regional executive recognizes that “the campaign is going slower than desired” and initially claimed that the reason was holidays, but this Monday the counselor blamed the “slowness” on the “complexity of the process in residences.”
After this initial week, criticism of the lack of planning and the stoppage during holidays is flying overhead, despite the fact that Primary Care professionals they already asked for reinforcements when the first details of the strategy began to be known. For Antoni Trilla, the head of the Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology Service of the Hospital Clínic, “he has sinned in wanting to run too much” with the vaccination and has considered that “a little more preparation and a little realism were needed at this time” , has stated in an interview.
In Castilla-La Mancha A total of 2,036 injections of the 17,550 available have been given. This is 11.6% of the total, a low figure that the Ministry of Health also explains due to the “large number of holidays” that have occurred since the arrival of the vaccine to autonomous territory. From the department, they also assure that they want the situation to “regularize” this week. Aragon, at the moment, has administered 1,885 doses of the 12,015 received, 15.7%, but the regional government justifies that it is what was planned, taking into account the dates.
Other communities, however, are more advanced. Asturias It is the one that has put the most doses: a total of 9,707 residents and workers of residential centers in Asturias are already vaccinated (80.7 percent of the 12,070 available), according to data provided by the general director of Public Health, Rafael Cofiño, that you have ensured that it is being carried out satisfactorily and uninterruptedly. The process has not stopped during the weekend either in Galicia, which has vaccinated 9,500 people until this Sunday. It is 51.35% of the 18,000 that the weekly lot that corresponds to contains.
For its part, Andalusia Until Sunday, he has used 26,464 of the 71,067 doses that correspond to him every seven days, which is 37%. Similar, although somewhat higher, is the percentage registered in Castile and Leon, which has administered 44% of the vaccines received. Both communities have explained that the percentages do not reach 100% because vaccine packages are reserved in order to guarantee vaccination with the second dose to these same people and thus complete the immunization. For its part, the Canary Islands have injected almost half, 47% – 4,593 people with 9,750 doses – and Murcia 39.4%.
Escalation of infections
The slow start has generated concern and occurs in the midst of a scenario of rising infections. Despite the fact that we do not have data since last December 31, all epidemiological indicators portend a third wave that can flare up after the Christmas gatherings. Last Thursday, on New Year’s Eve, Spain registered the worst daily contagion data in a month and a half and the accumulated incidence in 14 days already exceeds the highest alert level of the risk ‘traffic light’ designed by Health. A situation that the communities and the Ministry will analyze this afternoon.
With the 4.5 million vials that Spain will receive from Pfizer, and taking into account that it requires two doses separated by 21 days, the objective is to immunize users and workers of residences, health workers and large dependents. This is the first stage of the plan, which in total includes about 15 groups to reach the general population. However, it is foreseeable that with the passage of time there will be a wider supply: the European Medicines Agency plans to give the green light to Moderna’s vaccine on January 6, although will not land in Spain until the second quarter of 2021 and the one developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has begun to be applied this Monday in the United Kingdom.
It is not only in Spain
However, delays in vaccination are not exclusive to Spain. The processes are being slower than expected in other European Union countries such as Germany, Italy or France. French President Emmanuel Macron has promised that there will be no more “unjustified” delays and in germany the opposition considers that the campaign was not sufficiently prepared by the government. Given this scenario of increased infections, the EU has decided to acquire an additional 100 million doses from Pfizer / BioNTech to accelerate the strategy, while the pharmaceutical company has announced that it plans to accelerate its production.
Something like that has been repeated in the United States, where the chief epidemiologist, Anthony Fauci, acknowledged this Sunday that there have been delays in the vaccination program, but has assured that it will be accelerated. “There have been a couple of technical problems and that’s understandable,” he said before noting that the important thing is “to see what happens in the next week or week and a half.”
Report prepared with information from Francisca Bravo, Daniel Cela, Rubén Alonso, Alba Camazón, Beatriz Muñoz and Candela Canales