*UPDATE APRIL 14TH 2021: Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson is to delay the rollout of its Janssen Covid-19 vaccine in Europe, including in Spain, due to concerns over rare potential side effects detected in the United States. Spanish health authorities are yet clarify how this will affect their plans for the Janssen vaccine as explained below.
On Friday, Health Minister Carolina Darias confirmed that on Tuesday April 13th Spain will receive its first 300,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine, out of a total of 5.5 million which are scheduled to arrive in the next three months.
“In principle (or “for now”, depending on the interpretation of en principio), it will be administered in accordance with the latest update of Spain’s vaccination strategy, in the same typology category as the mRNA ones,” Darias told journalists.
“In other words we’ll incorporate it into the campaign for those of 80 years of age downwards.”
So far the Covid-19 mRNA Covid vaccines available have been the Pfizer and the Moderna ones. In simple terms, mRNA vaccines are a new type of inoculation which teaches the body’s cells how to make proteins; this in turn triggers an immune response in our bodies.
The Spanish government, which has high expectations of getting its vaccine rollout into full throttle in this second quarter, wants to offer the one-dose Janssen vaccine to those aged 70 to 79 as a way of speeding up the rate of immunity among its population.
This age group is included in group 5 of Spain’s vaccination strategy , together with people who have any of the serious illnesses that make them a priority for vaccination and also together with those aged 66 to 69 years.
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The first two groups will be vaccinated at the same time whereas the 66 to 69 year olds will be vaccinated afterwards.
According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), there were 3.9 million people in Spain aged 70 to 79 in July 2020, so the expected 5.5 million doses from Janssen would be sufficient to vaccinate them all.
However, if only the Janssen inoculation was given to this group, Spain’s vaccine campaign wouldn’t be able to speed up, as in April only 300,000 doses are expected, then 1.3 million in May and 3.9 million in June, according to Health Minister Darias.
Therefore those in group 5 could instead receive the other mRNA vaccines — Pfizer or Moderna.
It’s a quickly evolving situation as evidenced with the many changes the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout has suffered in the past weeks (the latest is that those aged between 66 and 69 will receive AstraZeneca if the other three vaccines are not available in their region).
With the weekend’s vaccine figures not fully counted yet, the latest figures from Friday April 10th show that more than 10 million vaccine doses have been administered in Spain since December 27th, with 3 million people (6.5 percent of the population) receiving the full inoculation.
Fifteen percent of the population has received at least one dose.
Spain hopes to vaccinate 22 million people in the second quarter of 2021.
The country’s health authorities have been able to pick up the pace of inoculation in recent days, beating the record for daily administered doses with 336,846 on Wednesday April 7th and then 456,682 the following day.