Sánchez announces the end of the state of alarm on May 9 and promises 33 million vaccinated in August
Week by week immunisation schedule: 5 million Spaniards at the beginning of May, 10 at the beginning of June and 25 by the start of summer July
MadridPedro Sánchez has kicked off the second quarter of 2021 with the announcement of millions of coronavirus vaccines to overturn the failure to meet the objectives set for the end of March, when it was expected that 80% of people over 80 years would be vaccinated, a promise that has not been fulfilled in Catalonia, for example.
Faced with the prospect of a fourth wave, the Spanish president has responded with a message of optimism. Firstly, by announcing the end of the state of alarm, that is, the night-time curfew and perimeter confinements, as of 9 May. "We want May 9 to be the end point of the state of alarm, and we are working on this," he said, noting that he is confident that the next restrictions will be decided by the inter-territorial health council, which brings together the Spanish Minister of Health with regional health ministers.
According to the "more prudent and conservative" forecasts, the Spanish government believes it is possible for 33 million Spaniards to be vaccinated by the end of the summer, i.e. the promise of immunising 70% of the population. In this sense, it has set a very clear timetable: 5 million completely vaccinated by May 3 and twice as many -10 million- in early June. Just one week later, by June 14, 15 million people are expected to be vaccinated; the following week, just before the start of summer, 25 million people will have received the jab.
Sánchez has detailed that Spain has a weekly administration capacity of up to 3.5 million doses and that this will be effective especially in the second quarter, when a total of 38 million vaccines arrive, according to the commitment that the State has with a total of four pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen, which will begin to make shipments from April 14.
The Moncloa has put a great deal of trust on the the latter, since a single dose of the vaccine is sufficient for immunisation and, therefore, the vaccination pace can be much higher. In fact, it will also be administered in the age group between 70 and 79 years, as Sánchez explained.
3.5 times more vaccines than in the first quarter
During the summer quarter is when Spain expects to receive more vaccines, since the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to endorse the vaccine from the German pharmaceutical company Curevac. In total, Sánchez has announced 47 million doses between July and September, which brings the figure since April to a total of 87. In fact, this quarter alone, according to Sánchez's calculations, 3.5 times more vaccines will be received than during the previous quarter.
Asked what has gone wrong to make the rate of vaccination in Europe lower than in countries like the United States, Sánchez has pointed to a single culprit: the repeated failures of AstraZeneca to deliver vaccines. For this reason, he defended the fact that the Spanish government's policy has been to diversify the purchase of vaccines as much as possible and not to focus on a single supplier, as other European countries have done.
What restrictions will there be in summer?
The end of the state of alarm opens a new period of uncertainty regarding the restrictions for the end of spring and the beginning of summer. In fact, it is almost a repeat of last year's scenario. Sánchez is confident that the epidemiological indicators will be favourable and the vaccination rate will increase-. He also does not want to face the challenge of trying to gather support in the Spanish Parliament at the gates of the Madrid elections scheduled for May 4.
The issue is to what extent the inter-territorial health council is legally empowered to force all regions to comply with the measures that are agreed. Once the state of alarm is lifted, the regional governments will have the power to close or limit the opening of shops and hotels, but not to maintain curfews or lock certain areas down.