Almost a year after China announced the detection in its territory of the first case of COVID-19 in the world, the American company Pfizer has breathed a breath of hope this week in the race to control the pandemic. The announcement by the pharmaceutical company that its vaccine is 90% effective against the new coronavirus has sparked optimism and caused countries and institutions to rush to sign agreements with the company to acquire doses of the compound, once its success is verified and approved by the regulatory authorities.
Given this information, the European Commission has embarked on a race against the clock – which it plans to culminate in the next few days – to get hold of the Pfizer drug, to later distribute it among the Member States. They must arrive in Spain just over 20 million vaccines, which may be available for application in early 2021 and whose supply, together with the doses from other laboratories, is being outlined by a group of experts in the field within the distribution strategy in national territory.
When will the vaccine be available?
It is “very possible” that there vaccines to start immunizing the population in Januarysaid the director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón, who stated that Pfizer will probably be the first to arrive. However, he has warned that they will not be available “for everyone at the same time.” The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, has also ruled on this matter, who has indicated “the beginning of the year” as the moment of its application.
The reception of the vaccine could even be brought forward to the end of 2020 if everything “went very, very well”, Illa has recognized. Some deadlines that the Minister of Science, Pedro Duque, has supported, who has clarified that it is not possible to dispose of doses before the end of the year.
Who will get the vaccine?
Given the impossibility of immunizing the entire Spanish population, it will be necessary to resort to “group prioritization”. This task corresponds to a committee of experts and managers of the autonomous communities that are developing the vaccination strategy in the country, which will be released in the coming days and must be approved by the Interterritorial Health Council.
This has been explained by Simón, who has detailed that this group of professionals will have to weigh which groups do you want to protect: the most vulnerable, those who favor transmission, the essential workers who are interested in reducing the risk of infection …
How many people can be vaccinated in Spain?
The president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, has announced that she plans to authorize this Wednesday a contract to purchase 300 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to supply to EU countries. Of this amount, Spain has just over 20 millionbased on a pro-rata made by the Union according to the population of each state, the Minister of Science explained.
These doses will serve to immunize about 10 million people, since the vaccine is of double application. The supply of the drug, as estimated by the Minister of Health, could be completed in May 2021, when there will be “a significant percentage of the Spanish population” protected against COVID.
However, the fact that the first doses of Pfizer arrive in January does not mean that all do those that Spain will receive. In fact, the company has revealed that it intends to produce and distribute about 50 million before the end of 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
This agreement between the Commission and Pfizer will add to those it has already signed with three other companies that are working on treatments against the pandemic: AstraZeneca, Sanofi y Johnson & Johnson, which should be included in the vaccination strategy.
What is the price and where is it administered?
The Minister of Health has advanced that the vaccine It will be “free” and “will be administered by Social Security”. Asked about the possible reluctance of the population to be immunized, Illa has considered that it will not be necessary to make it mandatory – although he has not ruled it out – because Spanish society will respond responsibly.
Is it possible to apply several vaccines at the same time in Spain?
Although Pfizer was the first pharmaceutical company to offer such specific data, “the situation may arise where they are administered several vaccines at the same time“From different laboratories, according to Simón. This circumstance would help to immunize all citizens earlier, since no company is in a position to produce enough doses to do so in the short term.
Therefore, having access to several vaccines simultaneously can be positive, as long as all are “sufficiently effective”. In that scenario of two or more vaccines, priority will be given “the safest and most effective”, as well as the time when they are available.
What are the problems with the Pfizer vaccine?
The Pfizer vaccine, developed in collaboration with German technology company BionTech, presents a series of logistical complexities, as it must remain at a temperature of between 70 and 80 degrees below zero. These conditions make international transportation and distribution difficult.
However, these storage requirements should not pose a problem, Simón has estimated, since the pharmaceutical company has some containers to keep the vaccine in optimal conditions for 15 days and its provision is included in the Pfizer offering.
What is the status of the rest of the vaccines?
Among the most advanced projects, in addition to that of Pfizer-BioNTech, are Sinovac’s Chinese-Brazilian and the Butantan Institute; that of the Gamaleya Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology (Russia), already approved in that country amid criticisms of precipitation in its authorization; the one developed by AstraZeneca with the University of Oxford and those of Sinopharm with the Institute of Wuhan and the Institute of Beijing.
Also on the list is that of the American biotech firm Modern, the one from the china CanSino Biologics, that of the Belgian Janssen Pharma (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) and that of Novavax (USA).
And the Spanish?
Spanish vaccines, according to Simón, could be at the beginning of the second half of 2021, and there are eight or ten projects with the possibility of producing some efficiency. Duque has also pronounced on them and their importance: “We believe that it is very worthwhile to continue betting on them.”