As the European Union has now officially approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, several EU countries – including Spain – have said they plan to start vaccinations from Sunday 27 December.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the commission had taken the decision ‘to make available the first Covid-19 vaccine for Europeans’ during a press briefing held in Brussels on Monday. ‘It will be available to all EU countries at the same time, on the same conditions.’
The commission gave authorisation just hours after the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU drug regulator, said that the vaccine met the bloc’s safety and quality standards. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has already been given some form of regulatory authorisation for emergency use in at least 15 countries, including in the UK and USA.
Deliveries of the vaccine are expected to start on Saturday 26 December, with Germany, Austria and Italy planning to start vaccinations from Sunday. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has said that Spain will also commence vaccinations on Sunday.
Today we add an important chapter to a European success story, by making available the 1st #COVID19 vaccine for Europeans.
More will come.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) December 21, 2020
The European regulator had come under pressure last week from countries calling for the vaccine to be granted approval for use as quickly as possible. EMA had originally set 29 December as the date for its evaluation of the vaccine. The date was moved after calls from the German government and other countries for a swifter decision.
The EMA also plans to hold a meeting on 12 January to determine if the Coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna should be licensed. It also has on-going reviews for the vaccines developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford University, and another from Janssen, but neither of those have yet made a formal request for the EMA to approve their vaccine.
Spanish health minister Illa has said: ‘It will be a significant number of doses that reach our country but it will be a progressive and a weekly process. We will receive doses and distribute them among the autonomous communities, which will be the ones that cite the people who have to be vaccinated according to the priority groups established in the Vaccination Strategy.’
Illa has said that Spain will have 140 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the country ‘has all the capacities ready so that as soon as the doses arrive, the population can be immunised with all the necessary guarantees’.
Announcing Spain’s Vaccination Strategy at the end of November, it was also confirmed that the government has advance purchase agreements for Covid-19 vaccines with a total of five pharmaceutical companies: AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sanofi-GSK, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen and Curevac, in addition to Pfizer/BioNTech. Negotiations also continue with Moderna and Novavax.
The Spanish Health Ministry has released a list to summarise how it has divided the entire Spanish population into 15 groups in order to administer vaccinations.
You can also click here for further details (in English) of the key points of Spain’s Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy.
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