The Madrid region has suspended the administration of the first dose of vaccine to its risk groups for two weeks, due to a lack of vaccines. According to the announcement made on Wednesday (27) by the regional government, the aim is to guarantee the second dose in the right period, for those who have already been vaccinated.
The region is the second in Spain to stop vaccinating new people for lack of vaccines, after Cantabria (in the north of the country). The regional government says it received half of the usual doses last week and faces restrictions this week and next. According to data from the Spanish Ministry of Health, there are nearly 163,000 vaccinations pending in the country.
Lack of vaccines is delaying vaccination in various parts of the European Union, and some countries, such as Denmark, have chosen to follow the UK strategy of delaying the administration of the second dose, in order to vaccinate as many people as possible. people with the first. As a result, the Scandinavian country has applied the most doses per capita to date, 3.7 / 100 people (compared to 2.8 in Spain). The UK, which started about three weeks earlier, has already applied 11 doses / 100 people.
In part, the Spanish vaccination has been affected by the snowstorm of recent weeks, which has blocked roads and hampered distribution and administration. In addition, Pfizer warned on the 15th that it will reduce supply as it needs to renovate its line to increase production capacity.
Spain is in the first phase of its program, whose priority is the elderly living in nursing homes, health professionals and people over 80 years old. According to the regional government of Madrid, until this second (25) the first dose had already been applied in 94% of homes for the elderly and 79% of public health professionals. 11,000 additional doses were administered to employees of private health centers.
Despite the setbacks, Spain has already injected more vaccines than its larger neighbors in Europe, such as Germany (2.3 / 100) and France (1.8 / 100). Although Germany is home to BioNTech (Pfizer’s partner in the first EU-approved vaccine) and manufacturer of the product, its campaign has also been affected by the ampoule shortage and hospitals have had to stop vaccinating their employees. In France, the health authority recommended this weekend to postpone the administration of the second dose, in order to speed up its vaccination program.
Boris Johnson, supported by his first relative success in the fight against the pandemic – that of approving and applying vaccines before most Western countries -, took advantage of this Wednesday to prick the European Union, including the United Kingdom – Uni broke up for good this year. “It would have been a great shame” if the UK had remained in the European Union’s vaccination program, he said during a hearing in Parliament.
“I think we were able to do some things differently and better in some ways,” Boris said, before going on to say, “But it’s still early days, and it’s very important to remember that this is about ‘an international company. We depend on our friends and partners and we will continue to work with them inside and outside the EU ”.
This week, the United Kingdom is at the center of a dispute between the European Union and the British laboratory AstraZeneca (AZ), which developed with the University of Oxford the main vaccine of the Brazilian vaccination program.
AZ’s immunizer has yet to be approved by the EU regulatory agency, but the manufacturer has warned the bloc it will cut its initial shipments, due to a lack of production capacity. The EU ordered 80 million doses at the end of March, but the company said it could only deliver 31 million doses and expected a 50% reduction in the second quarter.
In response, the EU threatened to restrict vaccine exports and demanded an explanation of the quantities produced and sold by the manufacturer. He also raised the possibility that the company ‘diverted’ vaccines purchased by the EU to the UK program.
The company says its commitment to the EU is based on “best effort”, meaning the company is required to produce as many vaccines as possible, but is not legally committed to a certain number of doses. On Wednesday, the European Parliament called for the contract to be made public.
In an interview with the Italian press, the company said the vaccine distributed in Europe is manufactured in two phases. In the first, the “medicinal substance” is produced, in units in the Netherlands and Belgium. This input is then packaged in bottles for distribution, in factories in Italy and Germany. According to AZ, the bottleneck is in the first phase, mainly in Belgium.