Sanchez announces 3.4 million extra doses of Pfizer this August to rebut PP criticism
President doubles down on positive messages during conference of Spanish regional presidents in Salamanca thanks to good data on vaccination, labour force survey and the GDP
MadridPedro Sánchez has lined up the pieces to go on holiday with a wave of positive news to try to instil optimism and hope to the second part of a mandate marked by the pandemic and fight back in the polls, most of which now give a victory to Pablo Casado's PP. Despite the fifth wave and the increase in deaths in places like Catalonia, Moncloa wants to convey that we are already at the end of the coronavirus crisis. Right now he is backed by the latest data from the labour force survey, which indicates that the creation of jobs -especially among young people- has jumped back; the increase of up to 2.8% in GDP in the second quarter of the year and the "gold medal in vaccination", in Sánchez's own words on Thursday, after having overtaken the United Kingdom in the percentage of fully vaccinated population: almost 56%.
But to give a final boost to the immunisation of the population and refute the PP's criticisms, led by Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso, Sánchez was missing one last announcement that has been reserved for this Friday, as part of the conference of presidents meeting in Salamanca. The Spanish president announced the additional purchase of 3.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in August to go from the 13.1 million doses planned to 16.5 million and achieve the goal of having 70% of the population with the full guideline by the end of the month, the goal it promised at the beginning of April. Ayuso and a large part of the PP's regional leaders kept denouncing there were insufficient vaccines, despite the fact Madrid still has over 270,000 doses waiting to be administered. The Ministry of Health had already announced that there would be an increase in Pfizer vaccines in August, but has waited to specify the figure until today.
The Spanish President has assured that the purchase of extra vaccines demonstrates the Spanish government's "commitment" to accelerate the vaccination process. In fact, the president of Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco (PP), who appeared with the Socialist leader before the meeting, admitted that this was "positive" news because they have always asked for more vaccines to be available to regional administrations. Sánchez has thus contrasted the situation a year ago in La Rioja, the last time the conference of presidents met in person, with the current situation. "Clearly it has changed for better", he said, also referring to the economic data. "We are consolidating the economic recovery", he has added.
Without Pere Aragonès
The conference of presidents has begun at nine in the morning with the traditional family photo with Felipe VI and only one absentee: Catalan president Pere Aragonès. Aragonès declined to attend the appointment as a Bilateral Commission Generalitat-State will be held on Monday and the negotiating table is to meet in September. Sánchez "regrets" Aragonès decided to stand the up because "important issues" such as the European funds will be discussed. The Generalitat has denounced that the Spanish government does not want to discuss European funds in the meeting on Monday because of Aragonès's absence in Salamanca this weekend.
On this occasion the family photo was in Salamanca's Plaza Mayor, governed by the PP, where Sanchez has been greeted with cries of "resignation", "shameless" and "you think you're handsome". There have also been shouts of "Long live the king and long live Spain" when the king arrived. Then came the reception at the monastery of San Esteban, where they were welcomed by the priest and the meeting began after the brief words between Sanchez and Mañueco.
The highlight of the meeting, in addition to the response to the fifth wave, is the distribution of recovery funds. Sánchez has pledged to maintain the items for the communities this 2021. According to sources at the Moncloa, they will receive €10,500m, which means 55.5% of the €19,036m allocated to Spain by the European Commission. For practical purposes, what the Spanish government is doing is maintaining the figure initially budgeted for regional governments. At the end of last year it was already agreed to advance €24,197m of the recovery funds, of which the regional governments received 43%. This figure will not be altered for the time being.