MADRID — Spain wants to speed up coronavirus vaccination in April with the delivery of increasing numbers of doses.
Over 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses are being distributed to the country’s regions on Friday, while health officials expect an additional batch of 1.2 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vacccine on Monday.
The shipments are arriving as infections are stubbornly rising once again, leading to fears of another major resurgence. Spain’s 14-day cumulative cases per 100,000 people, a key metric of the pandemic, has creeped up over 150, above the level considered “high risk.”
With the new AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech shipments, Spain will be receiving in less than a week the equivalent of one-fifth of the doses delivered so far. Ever since the vaccine rollout began in late December, the country has been supplied nearly 10 million of the close to 70 million it is due under the European Union’s vaccine purchase framework.
That has meant that 2.8 million people have been fully vaccinated and an additional 2.7 million have received their first dose, although the slow rollout until now has meant that Spain has missed by far its target of vaccinating 80% of the people older than 80 by the end of March.
Regional officials had been complaining that the main bottleneck in the vaccine rollout was the limited supply of doses.
Health Minister Carolina Darias late Thursday encouraged regions to keep vaccinating during weekends and holidays, adding that the new shipments of vaccines gave no excuses.