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COVID-19 VACCINES

Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to vulnerable people

Spain is making available a fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to vulnerable citizens, including those with cancer, who have had a transplant or are receiving dialysis, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to vulnerable people
People queue outside a vaccination centre in Barcelona. Around 120,000 people in the Covid high risk group will soon be able to receive a fourth dose. Photo: LLUIS GENE / AFP

The ministry said the dose would be given five months after a third dose.

The decision affects 120,000 people in Spain.

For the population as a whole, a third dose will from now on be available for those aged 18 and above rather than the previous age floor of 40, and from five months after the second dose rather than six as previously.

Countries such as Chile and Israel have already started administering a fourth dose to the general population under the premise that it increases by five the number of antibodies against the virus, but in Spain some virologists are not convinced by this approach. 

“From a basic immunological standpoint, it makes no sense that in little more than a year a fourth dose is being considered,” immunologist Alfredo Corell told Spanish broadcaster RTVE.

“The aim of being vaccinated is to generate memory, not to generate antibodies.

“As long as we have T cells, which are the ones that coordinate the immune response, there isn’t a problem. At most it will take five days, in which we will experience a mild or moderate reaction, a cold”.

READ MORE: Spain approves Covid-19 booster shots for all people over 18

Spain has been in the global vaccination vanguard with 90.5 percent of the population aged 12 and above jabbed to date.

In addition, Spain, which has logged 90,508 deaths and 7.7 million cases during the pandemic, has given at least one dose to 38.5 percent of children aged five to 11.

In terms of the reinforcement dose, around 34 percent of the eligible population in Spain has so far received a Covid booster shot to date.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Spain’s Health Ministry on Thursday announced there will be a second Covid-19 booster shot offered to all age groups in the country, with the rollout likely to begin this autumn.

Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to 'entire population'

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday announced that the country’s Public Health Commission, the body responsible for advising the ministry on Spain’s Covid vaccination strategy, has said there should be a fourth dose offered to all of Spain’s 47 million inhabitants. 

What hasn’t been fully decided yet is when the rollout will begin, although Darias did hint that it’s likely to take place during the autumn. 

“We’re waiting for the arrival of new vaccines adapted to Covid-19 variants by that date, as stated in the contracts we have signed with the pharmaceutical companies,” Darias said on La Sexta TV channel.

The decision also still requires full approval from the Public Health Commission. There’s unlikely to be a u-turn on the matter, although Spanish health authorities have at different stages of the pandemic taken some time to execute decisions they initially announced. 

Until now, only people over 80, those in care homes and people classified as vulnerable (cancer, HIV, transplant, dialysis patients) have been approved to have a second booster dose in Spain, which is milder than the initial two-shot vaccination given in 2021.

In April 2022, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) considered that at that time it was too early to speak of a fourth dose for all age groups, but they have given the go ahead to high-risk groups.

Around 50 percent of Spain’s population has had one Covid-19 booster dose (third dose), but the rates are lower among younger people.

Spain’s Public Health Commission is in favour of waiting to see how the country’s epidemiological situation evolves and for the new messenger RNA vaccines adapted to the new variants to be made available. 

These new serums are expected to be ready in October and the two pharmaceutical companies developing them, Pfizer and Moderna, have already submitted the results of their clinical trials to the European Medicines Agency.

Although for the past months Spain has only been counting Covid-19 infections in people aged 60 and over as well as serious cases, health authorities have recorded an increase in recent weeks. 

On Tuesday, they confirmed there were 36,133 new infections over the previous 7 days and 131 Covid deaths.

As part of its change of strategy towards the pandemic in recent months, the Spanish government has essentially treated Covid-19 like another endemic disease similar to the flu, deciding to remove quarantines for asymptomatic and mild cases, and after a long wait, relaxed indoor mask wearing rules.

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