Spain to decide on Covid booster shots next week
Health authorities say they are "ready" to administer extra jabs if panel of experts deems them necessary
Health authorities in Spain say they are "ready" to administer coronavirus booster shots if a panel of vaccine experts deems them to be necessary, with a decision on the matter expected next week.
"If they decide to go ahead and start vaccinating certain groups, that’s what we’re going to do," said Spain’s Health minister Carolina Darias on Wednesday.
More than 75% of Spaniards have received at least one vaccine jab, and over 67% have been fully vaccinated, according to the latest figures released on August 25.
However, the highly contagious Delta variant caused a new wave of Covid-19 contagions across Spain this summer, with breakthrough infections in people considered to be fully immunized, thereby raising the possibility of administering extra jabs, especially for those with weak immune systems.
With rich countries like Germany, France or Israel pledging to give booster shots, the World Health Organization has strongly criticized them for driving up demand and using up the scarce supply of vaccines when many countries have yet to offer their citizens a first jab.
"Offering booster doses to a large proportion of a population when many have not yet received even a first dose undermines the principle of national and global equity," read a statement by the WHO published on August 10.
"Prioritizing booster doses over speed and breadth in the initial dose coverage may also damage the prospects for global mitigation of the pandemic, with severe implications for the health, social and economic well-being of people globally," read the press release.
The Spanish panel of vaccine experts began considering whether booster jabs were necessary last July, said Darias. The decision will not depend on the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which will issue a report on the matter next week.
Darias says experts are close to reaching consensus, but some issues remain unresolved, such as when they should be administered (coinciding, perhaps, with the flu vaccination campaign) and which groups should be prioritized.