Spain approves booster shots for over-40s amid spike in daily coronavirus cases

A total of 27,140 new infections were reported on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since July 28 of this year. Meanwhile, two new outbreaks have been detected in hospitals

People line up to get vaccinated in Barcelona on Wednesday.
People line up to get vaccinated in Barcelona on Wednesday.Albert Garcia

The Spanish Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 27,140 new coronavirus cases, which is the highest daily figure since July 28 of this year. What’s more, 77 Covid-19 fatalities were added to the overall death toll, which now stands at 88,619 since the start of the pandemic. The cumulative incidence continued its sharp rise of recent weeks, going up 29.43 points in a day to 441.69 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days. The regions with the highest incidence continue to be Navarre (1,314 cases), Basque Country (967) and Aragón (772).

As for Spain’s hospitals, there are currently 6,488 Covid-19 patients in normal wards, 115 fewer than on Tuesday. The pressure on the country’s intensive care units (ICUs) continues to rise slowly, with 13.42% of beds occupied by Covid patients compared to 13.10% the day before.

With cases rising, the Spanish Health Ministry approved on Thursday the administration of booster shots to the over-40 population. According to a press release issued by the department, the booster shots will first be administered to those in the 50-59 age bracket. The dose will be given once six months have passed since a person was fully vaccinated. This means that most of the 40-49 population will receive the booster shot between January and February.

The Health Ministry also authorized booster shots for those in Spain who were given the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – among these, a large number of essential workers aged under 60.

According to the latest figures, released Wednesday evening, Spain has so far administered 9.76 million booster shots of a Covid-19 vaccine. Until now, the booster shots have been offered to the over-60s, those who originally received the single-dose Janssen vaccine, people with underlying health conditions, and residents of care homes.

This decision will have to be ratified today by the Public Health Commission, as was confirmed on Wednesday by Health Minister Carolina Darias. According to figures released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday, a total of 37,755,238 people in Spain have now been vaccinated against Covid-19. This is 89.6% of the target population – i.e. those aged over 12. Meanwhile, 38,567,949 people have been given at least one dose, which is 91.6% of the target population. These figures rose by 13,136 and 26,536, respectively, compared to the previous day.

The proportion of cases that require hospitalization is significantly lower than on previous occasions. But the increase in incidence accompanied by a rise in hospital and ICU occupation
Health Minister Carolina Darias

Also on Wednesday, Darias confirmed that the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Spain continued to be delta, and that 40 cases of the recently discovered and highly contagious omicron variant have been detected so far. Half of these cases are related to travel to areas such as South Africa, where the strain was first identified, and the other half were due to community transmission. The minister added that further cases were being investigated.

“The rising trend [of the incidence] is being observed in all age groups except for those over 70, who are showing lower incidences and a stable trend,” Darias explained. “This is a group of people who mostly already have one booster shot. Those with the highest incidence are the under-12s, who are not yet vaccinated.” The campaign to vaccinate the five- to 11-year-old group began yesterday in Spain.

“The proportion of cases that require hospitalization is significantly lower than on previous occasions in all age groups,” the minister continued. “The increase in incidence is however accompanied by an increase in hospital and ICU occupation.”

A coronavirus outbreak has been detected in the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganés, with 28 members of staff confirmed to have been infected. This number may rise, however, as testing was on Wednesday still being carried out and contacts traced to determine how many people have been affected. All of the cases are reported to be mild, with no hospitalizations necessary. The cases detected so far are all in home quarantine.

Meanwhile, in the Clínico de Santiago de Compostela Hospital in Galicia, another outbreak has been detected among staff, with 11 cases confirmed so far. In both of these incidents, the origin of the infections were social events.

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