Minister Carolina Darias has appeared after the weekly meeting she holds with the regional councilors of her branch, the Interterritorial Council. It has analyzed the epidemiological situation and also the evolution of the vaccination process, and the decision to administer AstraZeneca doses only to adults up to 55 years of age has been maintained. The councilors of Madrid and Andalusia have requested, they already did it in the Public Health Commission last week in which the decision was made, That it be increased to 65. But Darias defends waiting for more public data on people over 65, especially the results of the clinical trial that is now being carried out in the US, because there is not enough data for that age group. It could be for “the end of March”, he predicts. This decision was approved by a majority, although there was no absolute consensus, Catalonia, Castilla y León and Aragon also opposed it.
The effect of vaccination is already noticeable in residences, where outbreaks have been reduced by 38% since January
This very morning Health has presented the new update of the vaccination strategy, which includes essential workers and groups of health and social health workers that were not included until now. A process “simultaneous” to the administration of Pfizer and Moderna, which will be directed mainly, in addition to the toilets to which they have already been assigned, to users of residences, large dependents, and those over 80 years of age. Among the essential workers are the State Security Forces and Bodies, the Armed Forces, and teachers. Darias has justified that these groups are there and that workers who were classified in the first state of alarm as essential have not been included in this priority group, with the fact that “the number of arrival” of doses is “limited”. “We understand that all groups want to be” and that many “have an essential function recognized by citizens”, but there is a “limit”. They will presumably be vaccinated when they are in their age group.
The position of the majority communities is to continue around there: from now on, vaccinate according to age. But that will be something that will have to decide the Public Health Commission and specifically the Vaccine Report, Darias has clarified. The active essential workers between 56 and 65 years old are also excluded from vaccination, they are not included in any group of those ranked until now. Asked about them, Darias has also replied that they will play in their age group.
The decision as to whether or not AstraZeneca is administered to those over 55 and 65 is controversial. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended it for adults without an age limit, and today the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that it does not limit it either. “It is true that the EMA could have limited it,” Darias acknowledged, and not have left it in the hands of the member countries. The decision to leave it up to 55 is based on the “principle of prudence.” Italy has chosen like Spain to limit it to 55, but Germany has allowed it to up to 65. In the United Kingdom it is also putting the elderly.
Spain expects to receive a total of 8.6 million doses by March from the companies authorized so far, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, although the supply could increase in March and could reach a more population. The indication of the Interterritorial Council has also been that “top priority” be given to those over 80 who do not live in residences, and if it is possible to start with them, simultaneously to large dependents, health workers and users of residences, it is done . Hopes are pinned on the Janssen trial, which is now in phase 3 and could see results in March, although by contract it would only be available in Europe by early April. Janssen’s drug only requires one dose for high protection, unlike all the others. So I would cut the necessary punctures in half.
The minister and the councilors have also reviewed the epidemiological situation. The cumulative incidence has dropped from 600 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Darias supports the decision, he said, of the councilors to “maintain the restrictive measures”, especially in view of the impact that the British variant, more transmissible, may have. Currently, Health estimates that it constitutes between 15 and 20% of SARS-CoV-2 cases circulating in the country.