Catalonia is left without reserve vaccines against covid

Argimon warns that "it is very difficult" to plan and that the British variant will be predominant in March

2 min
Boxes of covid -19 vaccines in one of the Catalan refrigerators

BarcelonaThe refrigerators where the Department of Health keeps the covid-19 vaccines will be empty from tomorrow. Health professionals will administer 30,000 doses between Thursday and Monday, which are all that is available as they will use the 20,000 that were kept in reserve in Catalonia. The Secretary of Public Health, Josep Maria Argimon, explained that this stock will have to be used to supply the scheduled second doses and the first for care homes in red situation, i.e. with infected residents. Even so, he admitted that for the moment it will not be possible to supply the second dose to 10,000 people who received the first dose and had to receive the second dose this week or next. "We do not think about the possibility that someone is left without," Argimon said, because the technical sheet gives a margin: the second dose must be received between 21 and 42 days after the first.

As a result of this lack of doses, due to the lack of deliveries from Pfizer and Moderna, Argimon has recognised that "it is very difficult" to plan the covid vaccination. The secretary of Public Health has called on the Spanish government to have "a firm position" in the fulfilment of contracts with pharmaceutical companies. He recalled that Pfizer cut 50% of the doses last week and in the next three weeks has to supply 10% less than planned. These vaccines will have to be delivered later. "It's like a roller coaster," Argimon explained. Moderna has not delivered vaccines this week and the new shipment should arrive in Madrid on Sunday and in Catalonia on Monday. The secretary of Public Health has added that this week will see a decision about the AstraZeneca vaccine, which can once again change the plan provided by the Health Department.

Asked if it is planned to increase the age of people who have to receive the next doses - those over 80 years old - due to non-compliance of pharmaceutical companies, Argimon did not want to anticipate. Nor has it been wet if in summer there will be 70% of vaccinated population: "It is a desire. We still have time," although he warned that 10 million doses are needed and that "it would be a huge task but would be administered because it is a priority. The Secretary of Public Health has demanded to know the contracts that the European Union has signed with pharmaceutical companies and the amounts, as "are elements that add uncertainty to the vaccination plan".

An "exponential" rise

As for the British variant of covid, Argimon explained that 8% of cases tested in Barcelona already belong to this variant and has predicted that five or six weeks from now, in mid-March, it will be predominant. "More than 50% of cases," he said. The head of the microbiology service of the Hospital del Vall d'Hebron, Tomàs Pumarola, has remarked that seeing its evolution in the United Kingdom, when the variant is between 10% and 15% of cases, "there will be a very significant increase". "Once it has infected the population, the rise is exponential and very fast," he said.