Spain becomes the latest country to limit the use of the approved AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. This was confirmed by the new health minister, Carolina Darias, on Friday. Due to a lack of data on its use among the elderly, the vaccine will be administered to people in the 18 to 55 age brackets only.
Spain has already administered 1.87million doses produced by Pfizer and Moderna. This was part of an initial phase aimed at protecting care-home residents, workers, and front-line medics.
AstraZeneca not destined for care homes
However, the 1.8million AstraZeneca doses expected to arrive at some point this month will not go to care-home residents. A further 2.7million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are not due for delivery until March.
At a meeting of the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS), Darias also said that she believed Spain would still be able to administer vaccines to 80% of the over 80s by the end of March.
The delivery of the new doses will help the rate of inoculation increase. It is still expected to hit the target of 70% of the Spanish population vaccinated by the end of the summer.
Almost 75% of Spaniards are willing to receive a shot as soon as one becomes available, according to a poll by the Centre for Sociological Studies (CIS) but some are still sceptical.
The third wave of COVID-19 infections has been slowing, with Spain’s 14-day incidence rate reported on Thursday showing a drop at 653 cases per 100,000. At the end of January, this figure was around 900 cases per 100,000. However, officials warn the arrival of new strains could create a resurgence.
On Friday, there were 28,565 new cases recorded, bringing the total to just under 3million. The death toll now sits 61,386 which includes 584 new deaths.
Vaccine Priority Groups
Spain has divided the population into 15 groups to administer vaccinations. Residents in care homes and their health workers will be the first group to receive the vaccination. Following this, all other health professionals and people with serious disabilities are set to receive the vaccine. Citizens over the age of 80 will follow. Earlier this week, however, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the Madrid regional government, said that waiters, teachers, taxi drivers, and supermarket checkout staff in the region could also be prioritised.