Vast majority of essential workers under 60 opt for second AstraZeneca dose over Pfizer

Spanish health ministry confirms four deaths linked to thrombosis of people who had received the Oxford jab

A medical professional administers a Covid-19 vaccine in the Fira de Barcelona congress hall (by Blanca Blay)
A medical professional administers a Covid-19 vaccine in the Fira de Barcelona congress hall (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 28, 2021 04:20 PM

87% of the 4,603 essential workers under 60 who have already been given one dose of AstraZeneca have opted to receive a second shot of the same jab instead of a Pfizer one. In all, 4,006 opted for the Oxford vaccine. 

Vaccinations with AstraZeneca had started for this group before the decision was made first to pause the administration of this vaccine, and then only to give it to people in their 60s

Second doses for essential workers started on Thursday and by default, they will be given a Pfizer jab, as decided in the interterritorial council from the recommendation of Spanish health authorities. 

However, the person can ask to be given AstraZeneca after submitting an informed consent form

The Ministry of Health on Thursday criticized the regional health departments that recommend AstraZeneca and recalled that the choice of Pfizer was agreed in meetings of the interterritorial health council.

Four deaths linked to thrombosis

Meanwhile, the Spanish health ministry has confirmed that four people have died in the country from thrombotic events after being given the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Of the nearly 5 million doses administered of the Oxford inoculation, 20 cases, including the four fatalities, of thrombus have been confirmed, which the department of health attributes to the vaccine. 

The ministry made the announcement amid controversy over the fact that people under 60 who have received one dose of AstraZeneca can choose a second one. 

The decision to mix the two brands of vaccine for complete immunization was largely based on a study by Madrid's Carlos III institute, called CombivacS, which determined that the practice was safe and effective. 

The study was a phase 2 clinical trial that monitored the possible effects of giving the Pfizer vaccine as the second dose to people who already received the AstraZeneca one.

However, many Catalan scientists criticized the decision to mix the inoculations, a move expected to affect 200,000 people in Catalonia.

Experts such as Daniel Prieto-Alhambra, working for the University of Oxford, called the study "nonsense" because it was based on only 600 people.

The fact that the combination of vaccines generates antibodies is not enough for him, because this does not necessarily mean that it is "effective" and "safe."

"Why were millions of dollars misused in doing phase 3 studies with 20, 30, or 40,000 patients, then?" he asked.

Three million first doses

The newly appointed Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, is confident that Catalonia will reach three million first doses administered this week. 

"The vaccination campaign is progressing very fast, protecting more and more people in our country," the ERC head stated.

Yet, he also called for the population not to lower their guards as the country heads into the warmer months.

He made the statements outside FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium, which is being used as a mass vaccination site in order to encourage people to book their vaccines. Aragonès was accompanied by his new health minister, Josep Maria Argimon, and the president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta. 

According to the latest figures released by Catalan health authorities on May 28, a total of 2,819,674 residents have been given the first dose of the vaccine, 36% of the total population. 

Out of those, 1,249,020 have also been administered the second dose (16.0% of the total population). 1,341,880 residents are considered to be fully immunized (17.1%).