Spain has started preparations to administer the third vaccine ‘booster’ dose to citizens, the health minister Carolina Darias confirmed on Wednesday.
However, the Vaccine Report Committee, which advises the Spanish government on the development of the vaccination campaign will need to decide when the jab will be required and who will be first in line to receive it.
Darias stressed that the experts are following a strict rigorous process, although they are still waiting for the results of two new studies from Pfizer and Moderna which would most likely be used for the third dose.
“Both Pfizer and Moderna are developing clinical trials and we look forward to hearing from them soon. Pfizer's is the third dose on the existing vaccine and Moderna on a new formulation of the vaccine adapted to new variants,” she explained.
The Health Ministry is still awaiting feedback and approval from the EMA (European Medicines Agency), however, she asserted that it would be the Spanish health authorities who would have the final word.
She said, "The EMA's decision is always important, as is knowing the results of clinical trials, but the decision will be made by Spain’s public health authorities".
"But we are ready to administer the third dose," she continued.
If the green light is given to start administering the booster, it is believed that those in nursing homes and those who are immunosuppressed will be the first to receive it.
Darias said, "There is beginning to be a certain consensus about the fact that these groups have a lower level of antibodies than others.”
It is unclear at this time when the vaccine would be administered, however, Darias said that it could coincide with the yearly flu jab which is usually administered from October onwards.
She said that Spain was “ready if it is decided to inoculate the third dose”.
“But we have to define when, to whom, if we have to make it coincide with the flu vaccine”.
The news comes as the ministry released its latest daily figures. They showed that despite the number of incidence and hospitalisations falling, the daily death toll is still considerably high.
The report showed that another 163 deaths were recorded and added to the total, down from the previous day's figure of 190. A fall in such numbers is always positive, however, it is the second week running that the country has seen more than 100 daily deaths.
The additional numbers mean that the number of fatalities since the outbreak had reached 83,690.
Furthermore, there are also concerns about the vaccination coverage with data released on Wednesday by the Ministry showing that the number of first vaccine doses in August had hit a new low with just 120,000 administered.
This represents a fall of 45,000 fewer than on Tuesday and almost 90,000 less on the same day last week.
Darias acknowledged that the vaccination program had slowed, however, she said this was mainly attributed to the summer holiday season.
According to the latest figures, a total of 31,930,874 citizens had now been fully vaccinated against the virus equating to 67.3 per cent of the population.
The number of people that have had at least one jab has now reached 35,950,364 or 75.8 per cent.
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa / Fernando Calvo
September 20, 2023