The actual start of mass vaccination in Spain against the coronavirus is delayed one day. After the first symbolic inoculations this Sunday —Araceli Hidalgo, 96, was the first— , Pfizer Spainreported that it delays to December 29, the delivery to Spain of some 350,000 doses of its vaccine that was scheduled for this Monday due to a “logistical incident” at the Puurs factory (Belgium) that has already been resolved.
The delay affects seven other European countries, as reported by the Government in a statement released this morning. The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, has assured hours later that the problem is already “solved.” “The doses have to be first thing tomorrow morning at all delivery points,” he assured.
“Due to a minor logistical incidence, we have rescheduled a minimum number of our shipments. The issue has now been resolved and those deliveries are being distributed. No incident related to the manufacture of the vaccine has been reported ”, indicated this afternoon a spokesperson for the laboratory, reports Lluís Pellicer.
The company informed the Ministry of Health that it was postponing from Monday to Tuesday the delivery to Spain of the consignment compromised by a “delay in shipments” caused by “a problem in the loading and shipping process.”
The pharmaceutical company clarified that “the situation is already resolved”, although “the next delivery of vaccines will be delayed a few hours and will arrive in Spain on Tuesday, December 29, for the continuation of vaccination throughout the national territory,” according to the ministry.
“It seems that it is due to a logistical incident related to temperature control, which has been resolved. They should be traveling today ”, said Illa. “The information is that the doses that were planned will arrive.”
This incident comes after the immunization campaign in Germany was delayed in several cities after temperature sensors showed that nearly 1,000 doses may not have been kept cold during shipment from German distribution centers to vaccination centers.
The drug is shipped from the Pfizer factory to the distribution centers of each country in thermal containers with dry ice that keeps it at temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees below zero. The boxes can then be opened to distribute the trays they contain, with 975 doses each, to the vaccination centers.
These are kept between 2º C and 8º C for five days, but in the German case, according to the temperature sensor, a tray was at 15º C.Health had planned to send from Monday, in total, an average of 350,000 doses to the autonomous communities on a weekly basis.
Late in the afternoon on Sunday, the head of Pfizer in Spain communicated the delay, and the ministry informed the vaccination coordinators of each autonomous community, according to Illa.
In the next 12 weeks, Spain will receive 4,591,275 doses of this vaccine from Pfizer with which it will be able to immunize 2,295,638 people, which would cover the first stage of the vaccination strategy against covid-19 in Spain.
“We have started with a vaccine, but we are waiting for the authorization of more than we have acquired,” Illa said in reference to the next evaluation by the European Medicines Agency of Moderna’s immunization, on Three Kings Day.
The minister explained that Spain will try to stockpile the “maximum possible doses” of this American vaccine. In principle, Europe will receive about 80 million doses, of which eight million would correspond to Spain.
The end of the pandemic, he insisted, will occur only “when we have acquired a sufficient percentage of immunity, which is set at around 70%. This end may take place around the end of the summer ”, he explained in an interview on the SER network.
This Sunday the first of the three stages established in said vaccination strategy began, which prioritizes four population groups: residents and health and social health personnel in residences for the elderly and with disabilities; front-line health personnel; other health and social health personnel, and large non-institutionalized dependents.
“In Spain I am not aware that there has been any problem in the vaccination that began yesterday [Sunday],” said the minister.
The first 9,750 Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines arrived in Spain from Belgium on Saturday in two containers, the same doses that have been sent to each Member State of the European Union (EU) for this “first symbolic delivery,” as explained this Sunday by the CEO of Pfizer Spain, Sergio Rodríguez.
The European Commission has contracted with Pfizer / BioNTech a total of 200 million doses, of which Spain corresponds to 10%.
In response to the doubts about the equitable distribution of the vaccine raised by the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, Illa has made it clear that the vaccination plan was prepared with the autonomous communities, scientific societies and experts in bioethics “depending on the population target and based on official sources ”.
“Spain has acquired more doses than it will need to make the safe and effective vaccine available. There are people who want to color a political dispute with what is a very technical, very sanitary process that opens up a ray of hope, ”the minister lamented.