There is less than a month left for Spain to begin administering the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine. This is what the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, advanced this Thursday during a press conference on the vaccination plan. "Our great horizon of hope is the proximity of the vaccines. If everything goes as expected and the requirements of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are met, the first vaccines will arrive in our country in less than a month," said Illa, arguing that the doses will be just as safe as the other vaccines currently being administered to prevent other diseases.
Illa was speaking after the National Institute of Statistics (INE) added 18,557 to the total number of deaths cause by covid-19 in Spain up until May.
The minister emphasised that the review of all vaccines is being done "without shortcuts" and that the only difference with other cases is that the EMA has put in place "a more agile process", which allows for continuous evaluation as the results are generated, instead of at the end of the procedure. "No vaccine will be licensed by EMA without safety criteria. In the EU, we are guarantors and only effective vaccines will be authorised," said Illa after the UK on Wednesday detected the first side effects of Pfizer in highly allergic people, who are now advised against receiving the vaccine for the time being. Pfizer's vaccine is expected to be the first to be approved by the EU on December 29th . Moderna's is scheduled for January 12.
Once the vaccination campaign begins, the State will again centralise the monitoring of the administration of the doses and also their possible side-effects. As it does with the data on infections and deaths of coronaviruses since the beginning of the pandemic, a "single and homogeneous" register will be created and the Autonomous Communities will have to pass on the information to the Ministry of Health. Illa has defended that there will be an "extraordinary control" of pharmacovigilance, that is, of the possible side effects. "It will allow us to have registered doses, batches and types of vaccines and to identify all patients who are vaccinated. It will be an essential tool for monitoring the vaccination strategy. This system will be coordinated with other European countries. The aim of the whole plan is to identify possible adverse effects and to ensure the safe use of the vaccine," he said.
Sánchez offers to be the first vaccinated
This will be complemented by an extensive communication campaign. First among health workers and then to the rest of the population to convey a message of safety and confidence in vaccines. In fact, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez already said on Wednesday in an interview with Telecinco that he would have no problem publicly receiving the vaccine to demonstrate its safety among the population.
But not all the messages have been optimistic. The minister warned that we are at "a very critical moment of the pandemic," despite the fact that we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. "We've just had a bank holiday weekend, we're at the gates of Christmas and winter... We can't let our guard down and we have to continue to maintain security measures. According to Wednesday's data, Spain's cumulative incidence has fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for the first time since August. But Illa claimed that the figure must be further reduced until it is below 25.