Sánchez's promises and Argimon's scepticism
For some weeks now the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has been announcing that this second quarter they will be able to distribute up to 300 million doses of vaccines against covid-19. After the fiasco of the first quarter, and the European Union's loss of prestige and credibility as a negotiator due to the shortage of vaccines and the slowness of the process, the commission has started to authorise new facilities to manufacture vaccines more quickly and also make more purchases from companies that have already been authorised. Thus, it was already expected that from April the pace of vaccination could be accelerated and the number of doses received would double or triple compared to the first three months of the year. This Tuesday the Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, appeared at a press conference after the Council of Ministers to explain the good news, to point out the "success" of the European strategy and to promise that by the end of the summer, 70% of the Spanish adult population would have been fully vaccinated. In fact, he even specified a schedule according to which he expects to have 5 million Spaniards vaccinated by May 3, 10 million in early June, 15 million by mid-June and 25 million by July 19.
This is theoretically very good news which, even so, has been received with some scepticism by the Catalan Secretary of Public Health, Josep Maria Argimon, because not all forecasts have been met so far. In fact, a few months ago the Spanish Ministry of Health said that by the end of March 80% of the population over 80 years would be vaccinated - and this will not be achieved until next week or the end of this one - and the Minister also spoke recently of massive shipments of vaccines of up to 400,000 doses to Catalonia this week and so far just over half have been received, pending what AstraZeneca can send in the coming days. The Anglo-Swedish company's vaccine -still under suspicion because of the sporadic and isolated cases of thrombi that are hindering its administration in several countries and limiting the age range- is the one that is creating the most problems because it has not complied with the planned delivery schedule and there is no way of knowing exactly when it will ship doses or how many. Hope has now been placed in the Janssen vaccine, by Johnson & Johnson, which is single-dose and is expected to deliver 800,000 doses in Catalonia before June. Although the company had pointed out that the delivery was delayed until the end of April, both Brussels and Madrid believe that they will arrive by the middle of the month. We will have to see if this end up happening.
In any case, there is no doubt that vaccines, all of them, work, and what is urgent is to accelerate the pace of immunisations. Sánchez's promises are welcome and they oblige him to work to fulfil them. And, despite its scepticism, the Catalan Health Department will need to have everything ready so that, if everything goes according to plan, no vaccine is lost and the goals can be met.