Beginning of the end: Spain predicts ‘herd immunity’ by summer’s end

Beginning of the end: Spain predicts ‘herd immunity’ by summer's end
Photo: AFP
Spain’s Health Minister heralded the start of the vaccination programme describing it as “the beginning of the end” but he warned Spaniards not to let their guard down.

“We are looking at the beginning of the end, but there are months still ahead of us and they won’t be simple,” Salvador Illa warned on Sunday as the first vaccinations were given across Spain.

And in an interview with Cadena SER on Monday morning he elaborated on when we can expect the end: “The end is when we have achieved a sufficient percentage of immunity across the Spanish and European population, an immunity of around 70 percent,” he said.

This is the figure widely thought necessary to achieve herd immunity –  a term which describes when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely.

“That could come by the end of the summer,” Illa continued.

The government has planned to distribute 350,000 doses a week among the country’s regions, which are in charge of their own healthcare systems in a programme that began in the nation’s care homes and is free and voluntary.

The first batch of vaccines, some 9,750 doses, arrived on Sunday and over the coming 12 weeks a total of 4.6 million doses will be delivered, serving to immunize nearly 2.3 million people.

The first vaccine delivered in Spain is that developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which is reported to be 95 percent effective, requires a second dose 21 days after the first meaning the recipient will not be immunized until 28 days after the first injection.

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