MADRID – Spain has reached another milestone in the vaccination campaign this week. More than half, namely 53%, of the population is now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. In concrete terms, that is 25,060,958 inhabitants.
This was announced by the Ministry of Health. With more than 50% of the population fully vaccinated, three of the five campaign goals have now been achieved. Only the third goal, 15 million people fully vaccinated by June 20, had not been met by that date. However, the backlog that existed then has now been made up.
While vaccination rates are slowing in other European countries, all Spanish regions are continuing to vaccinate at full speed. With the available vaccines, the pace couldn’t be faster now. Since the start of the vaccination campaign, Spain has received around 56 million doses, of which almost 95% have now been used. Between 500 and 700,000 shots are taken every day. The willingness to vaccinate in Spain is also high, although it is not yet known how it is among young people.
Majority fully vaccinated
Seven months after the start of the campaign, almost all over-70s have been fully vaccinated, 84.4% of those in their sixties and 86.5% of all those in their fifties. Two out of three people in their forties have been fully vaccinated and among those in their thirties this is almost 60%.
This is also reflected in the figures, because the virus is mainly among young people, and especially among teenagers and in their twenties. The incidence among teenagers in Spain is almost 1,586 infections per 100 thousand inhabitants. Whereas, among those in their twenties the incidence is even more than 1,863. Furthermore, a number of autonomous regions have now started vaccinating people in their twenties.
According to epidemiologist Salvador Peiró, the danger of the delta variant that is currently dominant has certainly not passed. People in their twenties who are now vaccinated will only have built up protection in five weeks, and for the delta variant it will then be less. This corona wave will therefore have to be combated in the ‘classic’ way for the time being with the well-known measures, the most important of which is restraint in social contacts.
To bring the incidence down, curfews are now in place in Catalonia and Valencia and in Navarre on weekends and public holidays. The regions of Aragon and Asturias are still awaiting the judge’s decision. In the Balearic Islands, people are not allowed to congregate between 1.00am and 6.00am when the incidence rises above 450. In Murcia there is a maximum group size of ten people.
Race against the clock
Despite the successful vaccination campaign in Spain, the immunisation process remains a race against time as primary care has become overloaded and the pressure on hospitals is also increasing. In Spain, 7,618 covid patients have now been hospitalised, 1,240 of whom are in an intensive care unit. This means that 13.5% of the available IC beds are now occupied by Covid patients. In Catalonia it is even around 40%.
Herd immunity still at 70%?
The fifth and final target of the Spanish government is to achieve herd immunity in August. In the original target, this means that 70% of the population must be fully vaccinated. However, epidemiologists now state that 70% is not enough to stop the pandemic. This is partly due to the arrival of the dominant delta variant, which is up to 60% more contagious.
With the current number of new infections, a desired vaccination coverage of 100% is becoming less and less quickly achieved, because people under the age of 65 have to wait six months for their second vaccination if they contract a corona infection before this second shot. Epidemiologists emphasise that it remains safer to achieve herd immunity through vaccinations than through high infection rates.
The Ministry of Health registered 29,535 new infections on Friday, compared to 27,688 a week ago. The number of infections continues to rise, but the increase in the increase is stabilising. The incidence in Spain is now 659 cases of infection per 100 thousand inhabitants.