Spain did not start the vaccination campaigns on the right foot. Distribution problems, vaccine delays, complicated logistics that had to be improvised from one day to the next … And yet, globally, it has always been at the top of the world rankings.
Today, it remains among the 10 countries with the largest population vaccinated with at least one dose and among the 15 with the most fully vaccinated population. Far from the top positions and far from the goals that we have set ourselves, but in a very good international position under the circumstances.
However, this is only true if we look at the whole of the country. As we zoom in and get closer to the autonomous communities, we see that there are very important internal differences. Why have some communities fully vaccinated more than twice as many as others? For others, despite putting practically all the vaccines they receive, they cannot “close guidelines” and are at the bottom of the table?
The different speeds of Spain
In the graph above, we can see how the numbers of fully vaccinated people have evolved in these months. During the first few days, the positions vary more, but in the last weeks the percentages have become quite solid trends. There is a group of communities that head the table (Asturias, Castilla y León and Extremadura), while The Balearic Islands, Melilla, the Valencia Community, the Canary Islands or the Basque Country are at the bottom. Asturias doubles the Balearic Islands, in fact.
This is striking because, if we take as a reference what has happened with other countries such as Israel, vaccination rates would be higher in communities with a higher GDP. However, in the Spanish case we find communities such as the Balearic Islands or the Basque Country very low, while Extremadura remains in the TOP3. The explanations are multiple and they will allow us to see how the different strategies of the communities affect the rate of vaccination.
However, it is not just a question of strategy or effectiveness. Melilla is the second community that administers the most vaccines among those received and, even so, it is at the bottom of the fully vaccinated population. At the end of the day, “completing guidelines” is also from the socio-sanitary structure. During the first months of the campaign, the priority groups have been older and sanitary. Those groups have also been the recipients of vaccines like Pfizer’s that complete their schedule in less than a month. It is no coincidence that the communities that have closed the most are also the oldest.
It is not by chance that Ceuta and Melilla despite having many more vaccines in percentage terms that they have such low rates. The autonomous cities have to add to their little-aged population the lowest rate of toilets per 1,000 people in the whole country. The next communities with the fewest doctors are the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, also at the bottom of the table.
On the other hand, we must not forget that in recent weeks the arrival of vaccinations of teachers and other groups with AstraZeneca has created a large pool of people who won’t complete their guidelines for three months (the recommended time to put the second dose of this vaccine). This is another factor that affects some communities more than others.
Changes on the horizon
Yesterday the European Medicines Agency gave the go-ahead to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and, as we have been arguing for a long time, this may mean an important change in the near future of vaccinations. With an efficacy and safety comparable to the rest of vaccines on the market, Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine may make it possible to put the accelerator.
Long enough to reach summer with 70% of the population vaccinated? It’s too early to say because Although the current rate is not enough, the truth is that Spain is putting almost all the vaccines that reach it. In other words, as the Minister of Health pointed out a few days ago, meeting this objective will depend on vaccines. So the relevant question is what will we do if those doses do not arrive.