BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Health authorities in Spain say they are running out of COVID-19 vaccines and will have to postpone giving shots to health workers and nursing home residents due to delays in deliveries by pharmaceutical companies.
Catalonia’s public health chief Josep Argimon said Wednesday that the northeast region that is home to Barcelona will have used up all its available vaccines by Friday, when its “refrigerators will be empty.”
Argimon said this will mean that 10,000 people who had received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine won’t be able to get their required second dose as planned 21 days later. Argimon said “in theory this should not be a problem” because the guidelines approved by the European Union indicate the second dose can be administered 21 to 45 days after the first shot.
But he said: “All these elements add more uncertainty to the vaccination scheme.”
Argimon said Catalonia had also experienced a delay in receiving the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, the only other vaccine currently approved by the EU, which was supposed to arrive this week but has been pushed back until Monday.
Spain, along with the rest of the European Union, has suffered inoculation delays since Pfizer announced two weeks ago that it would have a temporary reduction in deliveries so it could upgrade its plant in Puurs, Belgium.
The EU, however, is pressing all vaccine companies to make sure they carry out their promised vaccine deliveries.
“We believe that the European Union and Spain as a member state should take a firm stance that the contracts must be honored,” Argimon said.
Madrid regional vice president Igancio Aguado also announced Wednesday that Spain’s capital is stopping new vaccinations in order to use what it has in stock to ensure that those waiting a second dose don’t go without it.
Aguado said the current pace of vaccinations will make it impossible to meet the national government’s goal of inoculating 70% of Spain’s 47 million residents by summer.
Spain has administered 95% of the 1.3 million vaccines it has received as part of the EU plan, according to the health ministry. Only 123,000 people have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
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