Spanish Ministry of Health now proposes to delay Pfizer second dose for under-80s by eight weeks

Hospital Clínic and Vall d'Hebron participate in a clinical trial on the efficacy of the second dose with a different vaccine from that of AstraZeneca

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A nurse preparing to administer a Pfizer vaccine

MadridAfter the request of the Generalitat de Catalunya and some other autonomous communities such as Andalusia, the Ministry of Health is now willing to delay the second dose of Pfizer eight weeks for the under-80s. Administering the doses further apart will allow more be people to receive the first dose, which already offers protection against coronavirus of 52%. Catalan Government sources have confirmed on Monday that this is included in the draft proposals by the Spanish Ministry of Health to be discussed on Tuesday by the public health commission. Until now, the Spanish government had been reluctant to take this approach.

The proposal will be one of the most important points of the debate between the ministry led by Carolina Darias and the regions this Tuesday and, if there is consensus, it could be approved on Wednesday in the interterritorial commission. The Ministry did not want to confirm the information but admits that there are "many open debates and proposals on the table" to update the vaccination strategy.

The Catalan Minister of Health, Alba Vergés, had already defended that, given the shortage of vaccines, administration of the second dose of Pfizer should be delayed in order to progress towards partial immunisation of the population, a measure already applied by European countries such as Italy and France.

The vaccination with Pfizer will be accelerated from now on with the weekly arrival in the State of 1.7 million doses from April 26 -more than initially planned- and until the end of May, as Darias announced. The Minister of Health has reiterated that, despite the problems with AstraZeneca and Janssen, the goal of having vaccinated 70% of the population in summer is maintained.

In addition, in view of the increase in vaccines that will arrive in the coming days and weeks, the Spanish government is working to sign a collaboration agreement with the mutual work accident insurance companies and the foundation of employers' association CEOE so that both insurance companies and companies collaborate in the vaccination campaign. This has been revealed by the Minister of Social Security, José Luis Escrivá, in an interview to Antena 3. "They have health personnel and premises that could be put at the disposal of regions' health authorities if they consider it convenient".

Study on the effectiveness of a second dose

Health also has yet to decide whether people vaccinated with a single dose of AstraZeneca vaccine under the age of 60 - who are no longre advised to receive this vaccine - will receive a second dose of a different vaccine or will be left with just the first dose for now. There are still no studies that demonstrate the efficacy of a second dose with a different vaccine, but Health and the Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid announced on Monday that they will begin a clinical trial to investigate it in the coming days. It will involve 600 people vaccinated with the first dose of AstraZeneca and five hospitals in the state, including two in Catalonia:Hospital Clinic and Vall d'Hebron.

On the other hand, the willingness of citizens to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the coronavirus is growing. According to data of the latest CIS survey, 82.8% of Spaniards are willing to be vaccinated when it is their turn, a percentage slightly higher than in March (82.1%) despite the problems that have occurred with the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the detection some cases of thrombosis.