The Moderna company, which develops one of the three COVID-19 vaccines available right now in the European Union (EU), has lowered its forecasts for dose shipments to Spain for this February. It is a reduction that applies to all EU countries and to the equitable distribution that the European Commission has agreed between states, sources from the Ministry of Health inform elDiario.es. It affects, above all, the fourth shipment of doses, the next one that touches, which was originally planned for this week but the next one will surely arrive. As confirmed by these same Health sources, this fourth batch, which was originally supposed to have 383,900 doses, will be reduced by a readjustment to approximately more than half, around 200,000. But they also emphasize that the company has promised to compensate it throughout March and to send, throughout this first quarter of 2021, 1,040,000 doses of its vaccine, so that this first reduction does not affect the total.
Questions and answers about the new vaccination strategy: whose turn it is, with what dose and in what order
This modification of the estimates forces the communities to some reorganization of immunization with the product of the American pharmaceutical company. The Autonomous Communities received the information note on this latest reduction, sent by the Comprehensive Management of COVID-19 vaccination group, on February 10. According to the communication of the company, they were transferred “a reduction” for “the fourth week of February.” Sources from the Basque Ministry say that the notice specifies that it is “advisable to keep a sufficient reserve of Moderna vaccines” to guarantee the application of the second doses, informs Iker Rioja.
Moderna’s serum, like Pfizer’s and AstraZeneca’s, requires two punctures for the complete immunization of the patient, separated by 28 days if necessary. From Health they clarify that the indication does not directly oblige the Communities to keep part of what is available to ensure the second injection to citizens who have already received the first, a strategy that some communities chose at the end of December. Rather, the change in Moderna’s remittances, they argue, is information that is made available to the communities and what they urge is to “organize” knowing how the shipments are going to be and the margin they have with them. so that they have been transferred when there have been increases in quantities. They also remember the fact that between one dose and another there is room for a month, and “in March they will have enough” again, according to Moderna’s commitment.
The Junta de Castilla y León has also reported this circumstance. “The Ministry of Health has communicated to the autonomous communities the impossibility, transferred by the Moderna company, to supply its vaccines this week, a situation that could last longer”, it reads in a note this Monday. “However, it is convenient to remember that the term established, in the case of Moderna, for the administration of the second inoculation is twenty-eight days,” they also insist.
The first announcement about Moderna, made by the previous head of Health, Salvador Illa, It was that 600,000 doses would reach Spain from January 12 to the end of February. But the current definitive agreement through the EU, which is handled by quarters, is 1,040,000 from January to March 31. The reduction is due to a readjustment in production similar to the one that Pfizer / BioNTech did in mid-January and which was punctual for a single week, they comment from Health. It also affected to a lesser extent what was the third shipment of Moderna, scheduled for the first week of February. According to that announcement by Salvador Illa, at this point in February, we should have 215,600 doses sent between three shipments. But as of February 15 we have 192,000, according to the current team, with Minister Carolina Darias at the helm.
Four million doses in February from the three pharmaceutical companies
Moderna is so far the pharmaceutical company that has supplied the fewest doses to Spain out of the three that are doing so, 192,000. The Ministry of Health has made this Monday a new distribution among communities of 483,000 of Pfizer / BioNTech that have just arrived. Pfizer is the company from which we have the most serum, almost 3 million, and has increased its shipments this February compared to those made in January, which were just over 350,000. “Throughout February a total of 1,779,570 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech will be received and in March we have a forecast of 2,705,040 doses,” reports Health.
In February, between Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, which has not confirmed how many quantities will be its next shipments, we will receive more than 4 million doses, the necessary to vaccinate two million citizens. Throughout the first quarter, the calculation of the confirmed amounts to some 8.6 million vaccines, although an increase in supply is expected in March. Currently there are immunized, with the two guidelines that all vaccines require, a million people.
Moderna’s drug is of messenger RNA technology, is around 95% effective and requires deep-freezing, just like Pfizer’s. Although it is somewhat easier to handle than this, since it does not require the responsible toilet to reconstitute the liquids, but they are already mixed. It is reserved for users of residences, people over 80 years of age, and for part of health workers who have already received the first dose. This is due to the fact that the AstraZeneca is not authorized by Health for use with people over 55 so it is limited mainly to essential workers under that age and some large dependents.
The fluctuations in the supply are the factor that most worries specialists and professionals. Many believe that we depend on that to be able to achieve the two vaccination objectives that the Government has: to immunize all those over 80 years of age before April, which would significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths; and 70% of the general population by September 21, a target set by the European Union. Currently, in Spain an average of 65,000 doses a day are put. To achieve the September goal, around 300,000, 2 million a week should be reached. Experts believe that the “bottleneck” is supply, which could have a big boost if companies increase it in March and if new vaccines are approved, such as Janssen’s –Johnson & Johnson–, which is single-dose and could be ready for April. If there is good organization, the system has the capacity, experts explain, because with the flu campaign each year more than 10 million doses are put in about two months.