Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has announced that on Tuesday the Council of Ministers will approve his ambitious vaccination strategy against Covid-19, with the provision that “a very substantial part of the Spanish population is vaccinated, with all the guarantees, by mid-2021”.
He made the announcement on Friday during a presentation on the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan for the Spanish Economy, at the Würth La Rioja Museum.
“Our forecasts, under almost any reasonable scenario, show that a very substantial part of the Spanish population will be able to be vaccinated, with all guarantees, within the first half of the year,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Sánchez said that Spain will be “the first country in the European Union together with Germany” to have a complete vaccination plan against Covid-19.
What the Prime Minister did not offer, however, were the details about how this strategy will be carried out, whether it will be mandatory to be vaccinated or who will be the first to be vaccinated. However, he did say, “We have been working since September on the plan, which will be approved next Tuesday by the Council of Ministers. We are prepared. Our forecasts are that, in almost every scenario, a very substantial part of the population will be able to be vaccinated with all the guarantees during the first half of 2021.”
“We are ready,” he said, adding that Spain had a “significant logistical network” to ensure supplies would be distributed to its entire population of 47 million people.
His words came as major pharmaceutical companies closed in on vaccines against the virus which has infected more than 55 million people and caused more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide.
US giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have taken the lead alongside US firm Moderna, with the EU saying it was hoping to have both vaccines approved for use by the end of this year.
Last month, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the government had also authorised the purchase of 31.5 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine currently being developed by the University of Oxford and British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
The government is also awaiting the outcome of Pfizer/BioNTech’s bid for US regulatory approval for its vaccine after large-scale trial data showed it was around 95 percent effective against Covid-19.
One of the key issues to resolve now will be who will have priority in the process. In the Balearic Islands, the Minister of Health, Patricia Gómez, said on Saturday that people in care homes and health personnel, as a vulnerable group “at high risk”, will be the first in their community, something that will no doubt set the tone across the country.
There is also the question as to whether the vaccination will be mandatory, since there are contradictory versions about the power of the State, within the current regulatory framework to impose forced vaccination.
At the Ministry of Health, however, they believe it will not be necessary to force people to have vaccinations because society is sufficiently aware of the severity of the virus.
Spain has been badly hit by the pandemic, suffering more than 1.5 million confirmed infections — the EU’s second-highest number after France. The virus has also claimed almost 45,000 lives in Spain, the fourth highest toll after the UK, Italy and France.