Spain confident on vaccination targets despite J&J suspension

COVID-19 vaccinations for the elderly, in Madrid
·2 min read

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain is confident it can maintain its coronavirus vaccination targets despite the United States suspending the Johnson & Johnson shot and delays to its European rollout over clotting concerns, the government said on Wednesday.

The early delivery in the second quarter of 50 million doses produced by Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines to EU countries partially offset the doubts caused by the suspension of J&J's single-dose vaccine.

Spain will receive between four and five million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine than expected in the second quarter, Health Minister Carolina Darias told a press conference.

Spain received an initial delivery of 146,000 J&J doses on Wednesday, which the Health Ministry said would be kept in storage pending new guidance from the European Medicines Agency, expected next week.

The Netherlands adopted a similar stance, while France has decided to push ahead with administering the drug.

Darias echoed earlier statements by Industry Minister Reyes Maroto, who remained optimistic about getting 70% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summer.

Spain aims to have half its population of 47 million fully inoculated by the end of July. So far around 6.7% have been fully inoculated.

U.S. health agencies on Tuesday recommended suspending the vaccine after six women under 50 developed rare blood clots. J&J subsequently announced it would push back the European deployment of the shot, which it began delivering within the EU on Monday.

Accelerating the vaccination campaign has become increasingly urgent as Spain's national infection rate creeps higher.

On Wednesday the rate as measured over the preceding 14 days exceeded 200 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since late February.

The Health Ministry reported 10,474 new cases, bringing the overall tally to 3.39 million, while the death toll climbed by 131 to 76,756.

(Reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez, Belén Carreño, Nathan Allen, editing by Steve Orlofsky and Grant McCool)