The Covid-19 vaccination drive in Spain is racing ahead. More than 8.33 million doses were administered in the month of April, outstripping the 8.04 million administered in the first quarter of 2021. That’s according to data from the Spanish Health Ministry, published on Friday.
The immunization campaign began on December 27, 2020, but only a dozen people received a shot in the last four days of that month. Since then, the speed of the rollout has steadily increased and on April 30, a new record was set for the number of doses administered in one day – 504,823. This is the first time more than half a million shots have been injected in a single day.
And it’s just not the total number of doses administered that has risen sharply. In just 30 days, the number of people who have received at least one shot has jumped from a little over five million to nearly 12 million. Meanwhile, a total of 4.7 million people have received the two doses needed for the full protection of the vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca – up from 2.7 million a month ago. Once the use of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Janssen becomes more widespread, comparing the number of people with the first and second doses will be less important, as the medication only requires a single shot for full protection. As of today, only 89,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine have been administered.
As the vaccination drive has quickened, the mortality rate from the coronavirus has fallen. In April, Spain recorded 2,757 Covid-19 fatalities, the lowest figure since September last year.
“The progress is very positive,” says José Luis Alfonso, professor of preventive medicine and public health at Valencia University. “Most people over the age of 70 are protected and there is increasing protection of those between 60 and 70, as well as health workers and essential workers. This has led to a very significant fall in the mortality rate as well as hospital admissions.”
Breakdown by age
According to the latest Health Ministry report, all of the 80-and-over population have received at least one dose and 88.8% have received the two shots needed for the full protection provided by the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca. With respect to the 70-79 age group, the figure is 78.9% and 13.9%, respectively. And in the case of the 60-69 population, 51.6% have received the first dose and 5.7% the complete two shots.
So far, the Pfizer vaccine has been used the most in Spain. A total of 11.4 million doses have been administered, accounting for 69.5% of the total. Spain is expected to receive 43 million shots of this medication by the end of September.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is in second place, with 3,8 million doses administered. Its rollout, however, has been set back by shipment delays and changes in the Health Ministry’s criteria. The medication was initially restricted to the under-60s due to lack of evidence of its effectiveness in older age groups, but this changed after rare cases of thrombosis were detected in younger patients. The vaccine is now limited to the 60-69 age group. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which investigated the cases, found that the benefits of the vaccines outweighed its risks, given that the chance of developing a serious reaction were one in 100,000.
A total of 1.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine have been administered so far in Spain. More than 43 million doses of the vaccine, which like the Pfizer medication is based on messenger RNA techniques, are expected to arrive by September 30.
The Janssen single-dose vaccine, made by a unit of Johnson & Johnson, is expected to double the rate of vaccination in Spain. Around 17.6 million doses are expected to arrive between now and September.
Spain’s regions have evidenced notable differences in the speed at which they administer the doses sent weekly by the Health Ministry. To date, the fastest ones have been Andalusia (which has injected 98.5% of all received vaccines), Extremadura (97.6%) and the Valencia region (97.1%). The slowest ones are the Basque Country (86.6%), Murcia (86.9%) and Galicia (89%). The national average is 92.9%.
English version by Melissa Kitson.