Falling Covid cases in Spain’s schools lead experts to believe herd immunity is near


Fears that were rife in Spain a month ago ahead of the return to school of 5.2 million students under the age of 12 have now made way for optimism. A possible rise in infections among the only group of the population that has not been vaccinated against Covid-19 has not come to pass, and experts are starting to consider that the levels of protection reached – nearly 80% of the Spanish population has been fully inoculated – have brought Spain to a situation that is nearing something resembling herd immunity. While the total eradication of the virus is not expected, the experts consider that the moment when students aged over six in elementary schools will no longer have to wear face masks is not far away.

“We are in the best of the scenarios that we could have expected a month ago,” explains Quique Bassat, an epidemiologist and researcher at the ISGlobal institute in Barcelona. “Community transmission has fallen a lot and very fast, and this, together with the protection measures that have been maintained in schools, has been sufficient even with a variant that’s as contagious as delta,” he explains, in reference to the strain that first was detected in India and has now become predominant.

Jesús Rodríguez Baño, the head of infectious diseases at the Virgen de la Macarena Hospital in Seville, shares this view. “If we have to look for an explanation for why the epidemiological situation is improving in a sustained manner, and is also doing so among those who are unvaccinated, given that the delta variant is circulating and we are gradually returning to normal, the only plausible one is that something similar to that concept of herd immunity is already working,” he says.

The daily report from the Spanish Health Ministry provides the data that support these hopes, only tempered by the “necessary precautions that must be maintained when faced with a virus about which we still don’t know things like how long immunity lasts,” as Rodríguez Baño explains. The 14-day cumulative incidence was, in Thursday’s ministry report, at 40.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a third of that registered a month ago. This trend has also been seen among the under-12s, for whom the incidence has fallen from 150 to 60 this month. The fall has been even more abrupt – from 154 cases to barely 30 – among the 12-19 age group, 80% of whom have already been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

If these data are compared to a year ago, when the second wave began to take shape, the differences are stark. The incidence then was in excess of 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, there were 11,300 Covid-19 patients in hospital and 1,600 ICU patients. In Catalonia, for example, a year ago there were 1,500 classes confined – now there are just 100.

Spain’s Covid-19 immunization drive: more than 60% of population fully vaccinated


The Covid-19 vaccination drive in Spain continues to progress at a good pace. According to the latest Health Ministry report, more than 60% of the population is fully vaccinated. This makes it the country with the highest share of completely immunized people out of the world’s 50 most populated countries after Canada, according to Our World In Data, a website run by Oxford University.

Nine in 10 people aged 40 and over are fully vaccinated, according to the latest figures, and the focus now is on reaching out to people who have not yet got their shots. In most regions – which are in charge of the vaccination drive as well as controlling the pandemic in their territories – all of the 12-and-over population are able to make an appointment to get vaccinated. A Covid-19 vaccine has not yet been approved for children under the age of 12.

Spain’s Basque Country, the Canary Islands, Murcia, the Balearic Islands, Navarre and Aragón have been vaccinating the 12-and-over population for some time, while Andalusia, Madrid, Catalonia, Extremadura, La Rioja and some provinces of Castilla y León started this week. Valencia, meanwhile, is targeting people who did not get their shots when it was their turn. In a bid to reach this group, the region is sending SMS messages with suggested dates for vaccination appointments. Galicia and Asturias are vaccinating teenagers by descending age, but have not yet reached children aged 12.

Spain’s Covid-19 vaccination drive meets second major target of immunizing 10m people by first week of June


As the fall in transmission rates continues to slow, health authorities are rushing to vaccinate younger people, who play a key role in the spread of the coronavirus. Every region is now scheduling shots for the 40-49 age group

As of today, all of Spain’s 17 regions are on their way to vaccinating the 40-49 age group against Covid-19. This demographic is receiving the BioNTech-Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which are both based on RNA messenger technology, as well as the medication from Janssen, which only requires one dose. Which of these vaccines is administered to people in this age group depends on the availability of the doses in each region, which are responsible for their own vaccination drives and for containing the pandemic in their territories. Madrid had been lagging behind the other regions, but on Tuesday began to send appointments out to the 40-49 age group and is due to begin administering shots to this segment on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the overall vaccination drive is continuing to gather pace. Last week, 5.1 million doses arrived in Spain – the largest shipment since the campaign began in late December – and of this figure, 3.1 million were administered. Indeed, the country on Friday met the central government’s second vaccination target: to have 10 million people fully vaccinated by the first week of June. The first goal was to have five million people fully vaccinated by the first week of May, an objective it surpassed. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 30 million shots have been administered and around 42% of the entire population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine (nearly 50% of the over-16s – see graph below).

Back to the beach: Spain welcomes all vaccinated tourists from June 7


Tourist magnet Spain will let people from anywhere in the world who are vaccinated against COVID-19 enter the country from June 7, hoping to galvanise a recovery in the devastated tourism sector.

The world’s second most visited country before the pandemic hit, foreign tourism to Spain plunged 80% last year as restrictions brought leisure travel to a virtual standstill, leaving its beaches, palaces and hotels almost deserted.

Entry will be allowed to vaccinated travellers regardless of their country of origin, and notably from the United States, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Friday at Madrid’s FITUR international tourism trade fair.

Spain will also permit tourists from 10 non-EU countries deemed low-risk to enter without a negative PCR test for coronavirus from May 24.

New vaccination record in Spain: 611,767 doses administered in one day


New vaccination record in Spain. In the last day, 611,767 doses have been administered , according to the latest daily report from the Ministry of Health on the progress of the campaign, corresponding to this Friday. A record number of vaccinations that comes after several days in which the daily immunization rate seemed to have slowed down.

To date, 21,683,707 vaccines against the coronavirus have been given in our country. Thus, according to Health data, 6,976,683 Spaniards already have the complete vaccination schedule (260,527 more than the day before), while 14.9 million citizens already have at least one dose.

Thus, 31.4% of the population already has at least one dose of the vaccine, while 14.7% have already completed the administration regimen. If calculated on the total population to be vaccinated, these percentages amount to 36.3% with at least one dose and 16.7% with the complete immunization schedule.

Weekly Covid-19 deaths in Spain fall 90% since start of vaccination campaign


Spain is starting to gain ground over the coronavirus. According to the latest Health Ministry report, infections remain at very high levels, coming in on Wednesday at 173 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days. But the progress of the vaccination drive and the restrictions that have been in place to slow the spread of the virus have softened the effects of Covid-19 on the worst parameter of the pandemic: the number of deaths.

Since the vaccination program began to take effect at the start of the year, the numbers of Covid-19 victims have fallen dramatically. The effect of the vaccines, which protect people from serious illness and death, as well as the fall in transmission due to social restrictions, have accelerated this descent. Since the end of January, weekly Covid-19 deaths have gone down by 90%.

Spain was dealing with the third wave of the virus when the first vaccines were administered on December 27, 2020. The first round of shots was more symbolic than anything else: 10,000 doses that were distributed in senior residences, which suffered the most from the effects of the virus and as such were top of the list when it came to who should get protection first.

The vaccines used at the start required two doses and the first shot did not start to take effect until 15 days after its administration. By the end of January, just when the third wave peaked with 900 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on January 27, the first injections began to have an effect and deaths, in particular in senior residences, began to fall.

According to data from the Imserso institute for seniors and social services, in the last week of January 778 elderly people died in care homes due to Covid-19. But in recent months, and with such places completely protected, the number of victims in such centers has plummeted: just six deaths between April 26 and May 2, the last week for which there is consolidated data.

One in four Spaniards has had one dose of COVID-19 vaccine


One in four Spaniards has now had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, health authorities said on Monday, as the country speeds up its inoculation programme.

In total, 12,162,359 people have received one dose of one of the four vaccines being used in Spain – or 25.6% of the population of 47 million.

Some 5,098,903 people have had both doses of the vaccine, or 11% of the population.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said last month he expected 70% of the population to be vaccinated by the end of August.

The country’s two-week coronavirus contagion rate fell to 223 cases per 100,000 people on Monday compared with 229 on Friday, according to health ministry data.

‘No sign’ of infection after Barcelona Covid-19 concert trial


There has been “no sign” of coronavirus infection among 5,000 unvaccinated people who took part in an indoor trial concert last month in Barcelona seeking pandemic-safe ways to celebrate mass events, organisers said on Tuesday (April 27).

The participants underwent PCR tests two weeks after the March 27 event and “there is no sign that suggests transmission took place during the event”, Mr Josep Maria Llibre, a specialist in infectious diseases from the Germans Trias i Pujol hospital told a news conference.

Organised by the hospital and a group of Spanish music promoters, the concert in the Palau de Sant Jordi was billed as Europe’s biggest indoor rock concert since the start of the pandemic.

European regulator says Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe and effective’


The European Union’s medicines agency has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is “safe and effective” to use following an investigation into reports of blood clots in a small number of recipients.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes after more than a dozen European countries – including Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Sweden – halted the vaccine’s rollout over clotting fears.

The EMA said the benefits outweigh the risks – and the vaccine is not linked to an “overall risk” of blood clots.

However, the agency’s safety committee has also said it can’t rule out a potential link with a “small number of cases” of a rare clotting disorder occurring after the vaccination.

It has therefore recommended that governments “raise awareness” of the possible effects by including them in product information.

The E.U. begins its vaccine rollout, aiming to inoculate more than 450 million people


From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and the workers who care for them rolled up their sleeves on Sunday to receive coronavirus vaccine shots in a campaign to inoculate more than 450 million people across the European Union.

The inoculations offered a rare respite as the continent struggles with one of its most precarious moments since the pandemic began.

Despite national lockdowns, restrictions on movement, shuttering of restaurants and cancellations of Christmas gatherings, the virus has stalked Europe into the dark winter months. The spread of a more contagious variant of the virus in Britain has raised such alarm that much of continental Europe rushed to close its borders to travelers coming from the country, effectively plunging the nation as a whole into quarantine.

“Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president wrote on Twitter. “The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries.”

For Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, the vaccine’s arrival could not come soon enough. Italy’s suffering at the outset of the pandemic served as a warning for the world, and the current death toll is again among the worst in Europe.

“Today Italy reawakens. It’s #VaccineDay,” he wrote on Twitter after a 29-year-old nurse at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital was the first person to be inoculated. “This date will remain with us forever.”

The nurse, Claudia Alivernini, said she hoped the vaccination campaign would signal “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

In Spain, a 96-year-old great-grandmother, Araceli Rosario Hidalgo, was the first to receive the vaccine. The Los Olmos nursing home, where she lives, is in Guadalajara,  a city that has a special storage facility where the first doses of the vaccine were delivered on Saturday, transported from Belgium.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wrote on Twitter that the  vaccinations marked “a hopeful new chapter.”

Similar scenes played out across the continent, although not every member of the bloc followed the rollout plans. In Germany, a nursing home in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt jumped the gun, inoculating dozens of residents and staff members on Saturday, hours after the doses arrived. Officials in the Netherlands said they planned to begin vaccinations on Jan. 8.

But all E.U. member nations now have a supply of vaccine on hand to distribute. US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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