The race is on for Europe to vaccinate around 450 million citizens across 30 countries following the recent announcement that the UK had become the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine.
Following the news that the Pfizer/BioNTech partnership vaccine had been approved, the British government said that around 800,000 citizens from the most vulnerable members of the population would receive the jab as early as next week.
The EU, on the other hand, is taking a more cautious approach and wants to fully evaluate all of the vaccine candidates with a deadline of December 29 to make a decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The Moderna candidate is also being considered with a decision on the vaccine by January 12.
The European Commission has so far secured hundreds of millions of doses which will be distributed to the different member states as requested.
Spain is thought to have secured over 140 million double-dose vaccines. This is enough to vaccinate 80 million people which is almost double the population of the country.
The government has outlined three phases of immunisation and has categorised 15 groups of citizens who will receive the vaccination over the first three quarters of 2021.
Phase One - The initial phase which will be between January and March will target around 2. 5 million people prioritising staff and patients in care homes, healthcare workers and those with severe disabilities.
Phase two (April - June) and phase three (July - September) will look to vaccinate the remainder of the population.
It is unclear at this time who will be prioritised with these phases but it is believed that they will be from the following groups.
Minister of Health Salvador Illa said that the groups cover the entire Spanish population and that a flexible decision will be made by health experts as to which group will be prioritised. More will be known as the vaccines become available at which time the strategy will be updated.
Illa also said that it was also possible that some of the categories could be broken down further into two separate groups including teenagers, young adults and those who are pregnant. This would extend the categories from 15 to 18.
Illa also clarified that the COVID-19 vaccination would be voluntary and as such there were no current plans to make it a requirement for citizens to undertake any specific activity.
Recent polls have suggested that only 24 per cent of the population would consider getting the vaccine as soon as possible with over 36 per cent saying they would only get the jab after waiting some time. It is thought that more than 10 per cent would refuse to be vaccinated.
Germany is thought to have secured over 300 million doses of the different vaccine candidates via the EU and their own deals.
The country plans to open mass vaccination centres with six set to open in Berlin in December ready for rollout.
The elderly and those with underlying health conditions will be prioritised.
On Tuesday, Prescient Macron said that the country plans to start vaccinating the majority of the population between April and June next year.
However, there will be a five-phase campaign which will start in late December or early January which will vaccinate the most vulnerable first including the elderly, those in care homes and those over 65 with one or more underlying medical conditions.
Once regulators approve a vaccine, Italy will begin to distribute it to the population health minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday.
The campaign is expected to begin in the Spring with the vaccines coming via the EU procurement program.
Although scientists believe that between 60 and 90 per cent of the population would need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, there is growing unease in the country with around 40 per cent of citizens saying they would not have the jab.
The health minister said that the vaccine would be free to Italians and would not be compulsory. Healthcare workers and those with medical conditions and therefore most at risk would be immunised first.
February 17, 2021
February 09, 2021