SPAIN: Over half the population ‘will be fully vaccinated by next week’, if not before
AT LEAST half the population of Spain will be fully vaccinated before next weekend, or the end of the third week in July, president Pedro Sánchez (pictured) has promised – and figures seem to show this is a very valid claim.
So far, Sánchez reveals, over 50 million doses have been administered, the vast majority of which are double-dose formulae (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca) with the others being single-dose Janssen inoculations.
This means 23.7 million residents in Spain are now fully immunised, out of a population of 47 million, so the 50% barrier already appears to have been broken.
Many others outside those 23.7 million have had one dose, but depending upon which formula they have been injected with, they may have to wait a longer or shorter period for their second.
The Pfizer and Moderna second jabs are given approximately 18-25 days after the first, but the AstraZeneca second jab is not normally given until 12 weeks after the initial dose, since it has been found that this is more effective against the virus than administering it after three or four weeks.
Some regions in Spain have been giving second AstraZeneca jabs at eight weeks, as a precaution against the newer strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, given that the first dose of all three double-jab formulae only provides a very low level of protection; about 30% against the original Coronavirus-causing strain, but barely 13% against other, more aggressive or more contagious mutations such as the Alpha, Eta, Gamma, Delta, and Delta-Plus, according to recent research in the USA.
But this same research found that all three vaccines provided up to 95% protection against all known variants of the virus once at least 14 days from the second dose had passed.
At present, the AstraZeneca is only being given to the over-60s, practically all of whom will have had the first dose or, if they were vaccinated using the Pfizer or Moderna formulae, should by now have been fully immunised.
This decision has, however, left at least one community in limbo: School and college teachers of all ages were initially vaccinated with the AstraZeneca until the criteria changed and it was reserved for the over-60s, meaning the second dose will be a Pfizer unless the person requests both injections be the same type.
Given that around 90% of under-60s who have had one AstraZeneca dose prefer to stick to the same formula, the lack of availability of these for their age group means many fear overstepping the deadline.
Other teachers opted to wait until their age group came upon the immunisation calendar, in case this meant they would be vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna instead – those who did so will probably if they are aged 40 or over, have had their full vaccination by August, and those aged in their 20s and 30s, by the beginning of the September term.
Children and teenagers of 12 and over who are still at school or college are expected to start their vaccines a fortnight before school starts, and the entire 12-29 age group will be tackled en bloc, with some regions having now set up a system where they can book appointments.
Pedro Sánchez says the oft-cited ‘herd immunity’ figure of 70% of the national headcount vaccinated will be a reality by the end of 2021, although the country’s original deadline for this was by the end of summer.
Given that, of Spain’s 47.1 million inhabitants, around 7.8 million are aged in their 40s alone, and nearly one in five is aged 65 or over, it would seem feasible that once all regions have started on residents in their early-mid 30s, the 70% will have been surpassed – so the late-summer target looks to be very much on track.
And with the estimated 50% expected to be reached by the third week in July, this looks even more probable: A week is a long time in Covid vaccines, with hundreds of thousands of jabs being administered by the week or even by the day.
Employment back to pre-pandemic levels, Sánchez announces
Sánchez made these reassurances during a party political conference in Sevilla, in which he also stressed that the damage to employment figures caused by the pandemic was already largely repaired.
Taking Social Security figures into account – those registered as contributors, either through being self-employed or employed, not taking into account those in a ‘simulated contributor’ situation such as on maternity or paternity leave, permanent, long-term or short-term sick leave or disability, in receipt of jobseekers’ allowance or of a retirement pension – numbers are back up to where they were before Covid-19 reached Europe, Sánchez revealed.
This does not mean the micro-economy or household income has necessarily recovered, since a self-employed person or small business owner would still be registered as a Social Security contributor even if his or her earnings had dropped drastically, but it does mean the pandemic has not led to an unemployment crisis.
Sánchez says it took over 10 years for Social Security contributor numbers to return to pre-crisis levels after the global recession that started in 2008 but does not take all the credit on behalf of his government for this; only part of it.
Europe’s ‘different attitude’ in 2020 and 2021 as opposed to that of 2008 onwards, and Spain’s decision to follow the temporary lay-off or ‘furlough’ trend – widespread across the continent – and to stick with it for as long as it was economically necessary to have helped, Sánchez admitted.
The ‘furlough’, or in Spain, the ERTE, system meant businesses did not have to make mass redundancies to survive, nor did they generally have to close down and fire every single member of staff, but workers’ wages were covered by the State until trade reopened and they could go back to their jobs.
European Commissioners have praised Spain and other countries which did likewise, as the move saved businesses from closure and prevented an unemployment pandemic.
Published thinkspain.com 01 July 2021