EU vaccine strategy 'a recipe for disaster' says MEP
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The decision forms part of the country’s third vaccination strategy review which also includes an announcement of new groups to be inoculated but also warns of a six-month wait for those who have already had coronavirus.
The complete vaccination schedule will be carried out with the same vaccine
Spanish Health Ministry
The report from Spain’s Ministry of Health states: “The complete vaccination schedule will be carried out with the same vaccine.”
Researchers at Oxford University are leading clinical trials to see if using different coronavirus jabs works for first and second doses.
The trials, which will last for 13 months and involve 820 volunteers over the age of 50, is being backed by £7million of Government funding from the Vaccines Taskforce which was set up last April.
Matthew Snape, chief investigator on the trial and associate professor in Paediatrics and Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said: “If we do show that these vaccines can be used interchangeably in the same schedule this will greatly increase the flexibility of vaccine delivery, and could provide clues as to how to increase the breadth of protection against new virus strains.”
The trial will specifically examine the immune responses of an initial dose of Pfizer’s vaccine followed by a booster of AstraZeneca’s – and vice versa – with intervals of 4 and 12 weeks.
Researchers will measure antibody and T-cell responses, as well as monitor for any unexpected side effects.
The Spanish review also recommends vaccine timeframes are respected with the first and second doses of the Pfizer shot administered 21 days apart, the Moderna shot 28 days apart and the AstraZeneca jab between 10 and 12 weeks apart.
But scientific advisers said failing to deliver the second jab on schedule did not mean the first one would be ineffective.
They said: “If for reasons of shortage or similar, the administration of the second dose is delayed beyond the recommended interval, the dose set is not invalidated.”
As authorities begin to inoculate a broader section of society with the recently approved AstraZeneca shot, Madrid’s regional government said it would convert stadiums and other big venues into vaccination centres.
But as the roll-out continues, people under the age of 55 without major health complications who have previously contracted the coronavirus were told they will have to wait six months from their diagnosis before receiving their vaccine.
The measure, which appears to be unique in Europe, will apply to the three vaccines currently being distributed in Spain, and is provisional pending further research.
Justifying the decision to prioritise those without a history of Covid-19, the Health Ministry said cases of reinfection within six months were “exceptional”.
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A major British study published last week found 99 percent of participants who had previously tested positive retained antibodies for three months, while 88 percent still had them after six months.
Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious disease at Britain’s University of Edinburgh, said: “If vaccine is in short supply and they are confident that they can reliably and confidently identify previously infected people, there is some rationale to this.”
Spaniards aged over 55 or those with health risks that make them more vulnerable to reinfection would be exempted from the six-month delay.
So far, the only people under 55 being vaccinated are healthcare professionals.
Spanish medicines regulators have ruled out the use of the AstraZeneca shot on the country’s over-55s.
Spain’s third wave of coronavirus is showing signs of ebbing with the 14-day infection rate falling to 630 per 100,000 people yesterday, compared to around 900 in late January.
But the death toll still jumped by 766 yesterday, the highest daily rise since April, to reach a total figure of 63,061.
The health ministry reported 16,402 new cases, taking the total since the start of the pandemic to 3.01 million.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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