Society 19/08/2021

Vaccination slows down and spoils Sánchez's promises

The Spanish president claimed on May 10 that group immunity would have been achieved today

3 min
Adolescents go to the Barcelona Fair to get vaccinated, in early August

MadridThe short-term impact a communicative strategy can have is not always the same in the long run, and Pedro Sánchez's excessive triumphalism has come back to bite him. On May 10, in his first press conference after the PSOE's defeat in the Madrid elections, he wanted to turn things around by announcing that in 100 days Spain would have 70% of its population fully vaccinated and hence herd immunity. Once the date arrived, however, neither 70% of the population is vaccinated nor has herd immunity been achieved. The pace of vaccination has slowed in August and the Spanish government has sought a way out which, once again, uses a message of optimism that tries to hide the unfulfilled promise: the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, has announced that over 70% of the target population (i.e. over-12s) have been vaccinated, although this is not what Sánchez originally pledged.

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In Spain there are 30.2 million fully vaccinated people, i.e. 63.8%. To reach 70%, a further 3 million would have to receive the vaccine. Sánchez claimed this milestone would be achieved by August 18, but taking into account how the vaccination is progressing, it is likely that it will be reached until early September. Furthermore, a total of 35 million people have received at least one dose (representing 74% of the population), whilst in Catalonia, there are 4.9 million people who have received the full guideline, 61.9% of the population.

Missed doses and appointments

As can be seen in the attached graph, the evolution of vaccination has suffered a certain setback during the month of August. This is indicated by the tendency of the curve to flatten out. The different autonomous communities have noted in recent weeks that the doses administered did not respond to the doses they had available. There is no shortage of vaccines - in fact, during this month 3.4 million extra units will have been acquired - nor of professionals to administer them, but rather people who want to receive the vaccine. The diagnosis of the health authorities is that part of the population has prioritised holidays and left the jab for September.

These concerns have been shared at the meeting of the Interterritorial Health Council, which brings together the Minister of Health with representatives of the autonomous communities, and attendees have agreed on the need to boost the immunisation campaign. In this sense, Darias has asked for more vaccination points that do not require a prior appointment. A week ago this formula was recovered and expanded in Catalonia, where it had been tested before for people who found it hard to ask for an appointment online.

On Friday, the Madrid region also chose to open the Hospital Zendal as a no-appointment vaccination point at night, and has vaccinated thousands of people. However, of late around 20% of Madrileños who had an appointment have not been showing up. And this also happens in Catalonia, as explained by the Secretary of Public Health of the Generalitat, Carmen Cabezas, in a recent interview in ARA. At yesterday's meeting, several communities reported that they have begun to shorten the period of six months before those who had had the disease could be vaccinated. They are also working to locate the most vulnerable groups still unvaccinated, especially those over 40 who are not fully vaccinated. In Catalonia, the Health Department has launched a publicity campaign to convince people to get an appointment.

Avoid a sixth wave

The aim of the conspiracy to recover the rhythm before the holidays is to avoid a sixth wave when the summer holidays end. It is precisely the youngest people who have not yet been vaccinated. However, there is an important group that is not part of the target population: children under 12. A hypothetical contagion will have fewer consequences in terms of transmission if the rest of the population is vaccinated, although experts have been warning for weeks that the delta variant - and others that may arise - makes it much more difficult to achieve the goal of herd immunity. There are even those who believe that it will not be possible to achieve it.

Although the goal is to vaccinate everyone, it has been calculated that 90% of people will need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. It will be necessary, therefore, to wait even longer than promised by Sánchez, who was over-optimistic.

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