Vaccine calendar: Spain prioritizes Pfizer in the plan against Covid and is dispensing with AstraZeneca

Covid vaccination continues with cruising speed thanks to the massive arrival, and for the moment without more outbursts, of doses. In particular, of Pfizer, of which 1.7 million will be served weekly From this Monday until the end of May, the vaccine that little by little is becoming the main remedy against the pandemic to the detriment of AstraZeneca. The Ministry of Health continues blocking its use by people under 60 years of age and communities such as Madrid already plan the immunization of the following age group, between 50 and 59 years, to whom vaccines will be administered RNA-messenger, that is, Pfizer or Moderna.

According to sources from the Madrid government, with the “current strategy” and if the supply of doses is not interrupted, in the second or third week of May they hope to start vaccinating the population in their fifties. It will be with Pfizer or Moderna -which arrives every two weeks and in smaller quantities-, the same ones that have been inoculating the population over 80 years old, already practically immunized, and those between 70 and 79 years old.

Below that age, there are people who have between 60 and 69 years, that if things do not change, they will end turned into a kind of island of the population that is vaccinated with AstraZeneca. At the moment, vaccination progresses with this serum between 60 and 65 years of age and later it will also do so between those of 66 and 69, but provided that the communities do not have other vaccines available. That is to say, that Janssen – single dose, which is now being injected into the population between 70 and 79 years old -, Moderna and Pfizer could also be for them.

In principle, the only vaccine that right now does not have a “prescription” to vaccinate part of the population is AstraZeneca, which Spain has decided not to inoculate to those under 60 years of age. “The others do not have an age prescription”, the director of CCAES recalled this Monday, Fernando Simon. “The priority was to vaccinate those who were most vulnerable. Once achieved – with those over 80 at” 100% “, 64.5% between 70 and 74 with a dose and more than 45% between 60 and 69 years-, it would get Moderna and Pfizer and Janssen when possible “, hoping that it also increases its supply of doses, he added. Therefore, AstraZeneca is getting more and more out of the equation.

Comparison of approved vaccines against Covid-19.

At the moment, the supply of the four vaccines administered in Spain is going from strength to strength. This Monday others have arrived 1.7 million doses of Pfizer and the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, has stated that in the coming days other 188,000 from Moderna and 103,000 from AstraZeneca. Before the end of April they should also arrive another 150,000 doses of Janssen.

AstraZeneca and under 60

However, the government continues to limit the administration of AstraZeneca, which is now only targeting people between the ages of 60 and 65. Several million citizens under that age and workers in professions considered essential – state security forces and bodies, civil protection, firefighters and teachers – received a first dose of Oxford vaccine, But Health looks for alternatives to avoid having to put the second of this same brand, despite the fact that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommends it.

But the Government does not consider following this recommendation and awaits the clinical trial developed by the Carlos III Health Institute confirms the hypothesis that this would also increase their antibodies against Covid. At the moment, the rehearsal has started with some delay because the 600 volunteers have not yet been recruited that are needed and that could prolong the time when the first results are obtained. They won’t arrive when the 12 weeks are up since the first AstraZeneca vaccinated under 60s received their first dose.

But far from injecting them with the second of this same brand, Health is committed to wait a little longer and exceed the 12-week period, waiting for clinical trial results to confirm that Pfizer is believed to be injected instead.

It can be extended for a longer time, no problem for putting it a little later, “said Simon.

The EU also prioritizes Pfizer

This phenomenon does not occur only in Spain. At EU level, for weeks there have been moves and decisions that underpin Pfizer as a priority vaccine and that, conversely, place AstraZeneca as a source of problems in the vaccination process.

In agreement with the Member States, the European Commission announced on Monday a lawsuit against AstraZeneca for failing to fulfill its supply commitments to the EU. ““Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not provided a reliable strategy to guarantee an opportune distribution of the doses “, explained the spokesman for the Community Executive Stefan from Keersmaecker.

“Every dose counts, every dose saves lives,” the Health Commissioner warned on Twitter. Stella Kyriakides, in relation to the failures of a dose supply that should be 180 million between April and June and has been reduced to 70 million among the 27 Member States. According to the population criterion, Spain would correspond to 10%, that is, seven million doses.

From Madrid, Simón has pointed out that AstraZeneca “is not complying with deliveries” but that this supply is below what is expected it is not causing problems in vaccination because it is “compensated” with others, particularly Pfizer and Moderna, which are supplying “more than anticipated,” as Janssen is also expected to do.

On the contrary and in the face of these problems, the EMA gave the green light last Friday to the expansion of the production capacity of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at the Puurs plants, in Belgium, and at the Rovi laboratories, in Spain. With this, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, celebrated that in a year it will be possible to produce one billion doses of Pfizer, 20% more than today.

They will join the latest agreements with this pharmaceutical company, to advance delivery of 50 million doses to this quarter that were scheduled for the end of 2021 and a pre-purchase contract of 1.8 billion doses for 2022 and 2023.