Updated 27 November: Sanidad (Spain) has announced some technical details of their covid vaccine strategy. Spanish health minister Salvador Illa said that in order to be able to prioritize, his department had assessed fifteen population groups, identifying four for the first stage of innoculations nationally, with other groups to be prioritized in due course by the Inter-Territorial Council. To start, though, the first four groups prioritized for vaccination, anticipated to be in January to March next year, are residential care sector workers and residents, frontline health staff, other health workers, and other medically dependent individuals not in residential care.
The other groups include the elderly, severely disabled, people living or working in communities or closed environments, those living in socio-economic deprivation, essential workers like teachers, children and adolescents along with pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, those who are HIV positive, and people living in areas where outbreaks may occur. The assessment for grouping purposes remains open, Illa confirmed, and is subject to continuous adaptation based on available scientific information.
The Health Secretary stressed, however, that this is not going to be a quick process and that vaccination, even when underway, is going to be in stages that will take considerable time. Vaccines in the first stage will be in very limited supplies, and other groups will be immunized according to their prioritization in progressive second and third stages, as vaccine doses arrive and become available, and as information on vaccine characteristics and immunity increases. This is going to go on well into next year, if not beyond, in case anyone was thinking that vaccine availability meant some sort of silver bullet to put an end to covid.
Original post 10 November: Spanish Health minister Salvador Illa, on television this morning, has said that he thinks the announcement of a potential vaccine from Pfizer is promising and significant. Illa said that assuming clinical trials do indeed result in the vaccine being approved, Spain will be able to provide 10m immunizations free of charge from early 2021. The country intends to buy 20m initial doses, Illa explained, but each person will require two vaccinations.
Illa said that he imagined that the elderly and frontline workers would be first to be offered the vaccine but that a working group had been established to consider this and the decision had not yet been made. Also under consideration is the way in which to deal with antivax conspiracy theories, with the vaccine not intended to be compulsory in the first instance but with the Government prepared to take action against liars and the anti-scientific as needed. The minister refused to rule out the possibility that vaccination would become compulsory but said he felt sure that the public would overwhelmingly behave with sense and responsibility because people generally understood perfectly well that vaccines worked and have brought some diseases under good control or, in some cases, eradicated them completely.
We can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel after some very hard months, said the Minister, confirming strongly again that the Government will act emphatically against “those who lie and promote pseudoscience”.