Britain’s vaccine roll-out has been praised as one of the most effective in the world, heightening expectations that UK holidaymakers will be able to enjoy safe holidays in the sun this summer. But what about other destination countries, including Spain and the popular Costa Blanca resorts in Murcia?
According to the Spanish government, in a statement released following a visit by prime minister Pedro Sánchez to the HIPRA pharmaceutical company in Amer (Girona), by this past week Spain (population: 46,769,124) had administered nearly 12 million doses of vaccines – 87.4 per cent of those received from the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca laboratories.
The government said this rate confirmed the national health system’s capacity to meet the challenge of a vaccination campaign of this magnitude: 8,631,548 people have had at least one dose while 3,253,537 have received the full dose. People over 80 represent the age group with the greatest vaccination protection – 97 per cent have received at least one dose.
The situation varies across Spain’s 17 regions (including Murcia), but most nursing home residents and health and other high-priority frontline workers have now been vaccinated (initially with Pfizer); while other health personnel and workers with a key social role (such as teachers) are being vaccinated with AstraZeneca during stage two of the process.
Spaniards and foreign residents in the 60 to 65 age group are also being given their first dose of AstraZeneca (with second doses due to be administered in June-July), followed by those aged from 66 to 69. People in the 70 to 79 age group have been receiving Pfizer and Moderna doses, although many are now waiting for deliveries of Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) to be resumed.
The next groups, people aged 56 to 59 and then 46 to 55, are due to be vaccinated later during the second stage, which extends until June. Then stage three will cover other “priority groups”, when the number of vaccines available in Spain and elsewhere in the European Union is expected to have risen considerably.
Speaking in Gerona, prime minister Sánchez said that, between April and September, Spain should receive 87 million doses “to ensure that vaccinations are available for all citizens”.
Meanwhile, he noted that research was progressing well at the HIPRA laboratory, one of the most advanced in COVID vaccination development in Spain. He said the Spanish multinational company planned to hold clinical trials in June and produce 400 million doses in 2022.
Describing the visit as “inspirational”, Sánchez stressed that the government would continue to offer its full support in the hope of obtaining a Spanish vaccine against the virus.
HIPRA SARS-CoV-2 is a recombinant protein vaccine designed to induce a powerful neutralising immune response to the virus. It can be conserved at between 2ºC and 8ºC, thus facilitating the logistical process, and the company’s strategy takes into account vaccination scenarios as well as its effectiveness against different variants and the expected re-vaccination process.
If the clinical trials prove successful, production is due to begin in October, with the objective of commercialising the vaccine at the end of 2021, subject to obtaining the relevant authorisations. According to HIPRA’s current projections, 400 million doses will be produced in 2022, and by 2023 this could amount to 1.2 billion doses.
Digital Green Certificate
Following the European Union’s decision last week to press ahead with the Digital Green Certificate, Spain’s secretary-general for digital health, information and innovation with the national health system, Alfredo González, said this would facilitate mobility at an EU level, guarantee public health protection, and gradually allow for the resumption of safe economic activity.
He said the national and regional governments had started work on introducing the Digital Green Certificate in Spain to comply with the deadlines established. The intention, he said, was to introduce the Digital Green Certificate in June, so it could be fully functioning for the summer season.
As for people travelling to Spain (including the Murcia region), González said at the end of the process travellers could opt for the traditional system (SpTH introduced in June 2020) or the new system (SPTH+), providing a Digital Green Vaccination Certificate as part of this application. In the latter case, verification would be confirmed on arrival, and the aim would be for transit to be considerably quicker and simpler, while maintaining maximum health and safety protocols.