Spain on Tuesday received its first 35,700 doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, several weeks into its vaccination campaign, which until now has made exclusive use of the Pfizer-BioNTech inoculation. In total, the country is due to receive 600,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine before the end of the month of February.
According to Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa, speaking on Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting, the quantities received will gradually rise, with 50,000 due to arrive in two weeks’ time, another 127,000 in a month, and 383,000 more in the third week of next month.
The doses arrived on Tuesday in 357 boxes on board a truck from Belgium, and were taken to a Health Ministry storage unit in the central area of Spain.
The arrival of the new vaccines will not mean significant changes to Spain’s immunization plan
The country is currently receiving 350,000 doses a week of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Illa also pointed to the positive news that the AstraZeneca laboratory in the United Kingdom has also requested authorization from the European Medicines Agency to distribute its Covid vaccine in the European Union.
The arrival of the new vaccines will not mean significant changes to the immunization plan, which is currently focusing on seniors in residences and their carers, as well as front-line health workers.
Illa announced on Tuesday that the “aim is for all residences to have administered the first dose by the end of this week,” and on “January 18” for the first people to receive the shots to get their second injections.
Judge rules against family
Meanwhile, for the first time in Spain a judge has obliged an incapacitated resident of a senior home to be vaccinated against Covid-19, despite the opposition of her daughter. A court in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwestern region of Galicia, took the decision in record time after receiving the request from the DomusVi San Lázaro senior home on Friday evening. By Saturday evening the judge had ruled in favor and gave instructions for the 84-year-old woman to be immunized.
The judge found that the health of the woman should prevail over the opinion of her daughter, and despite the Covid vaccinations being voluntary in Spain. “Is it urgent to vaccinate a senior during the pandemic? The infection rates suggest it is,” the judge said to EL PAÍS via telephone about the urgency of the decision. “It is well known that there is a high number of deaths and it was urgent to protect her. There are few more urgent things than saving a life.”
According to Spain’s Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (Imserso), residences from all over the country have turned to the courts for permission to immunize incapacitated seniors despite the opposition of their families.
In this case in Galicia, the daughter of the woman in question opposed the vaccination on fears of an adverse reaction to the vaccine and due to the “responsibility of having to make a decision for another person.”
A dozen seniors and four members of staff in two residences in Almería in southern Spain have tested positive for the coronavirus after having received the first of two doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The initial shot provides 52% efficiency in terms of protecting from the illness but not until 12 days have passed since the injection, according to BioNTech. In neither of these outbreaks had this time limit been exceeded. The second shot results in 95% immunity, according to the creators of the immunization.
The 12 seniors, all asymptomatic apart from one, live in the Ballesol and Asistida Diputación residences. Andalusia has so far vaccinated 82,025 seniors and health workers, from a total of 140,295 doses – 58% of the received shots. This percentage falls to 39% if the 69,225 doses received by the regional government on Monday are included.
Based on reporting by Oriol Güell, Javier Martín-Arroyo.
English version by Simon Hunter.