AstraZeneca vaccines reach the regions in Spain amid doubts about their efficacy

Police guard the vaccines in Valencia.
Police guard the vaccines in Valencia. / AGENCY
  • Spanish health authorities have vetoed the use of the vaccine on people over 55 years of age

The first 196,800 doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford were delivered throughout Monday morning (8 February) to practically all the regions across Spain.

The anticipation about the start of the inoculation campaign for the third formula marketed in Spain after those of Pfizer and Moderna was, however, much cooler than on the two previous occasions.

The controversy about the lack of data on the efficacy of this vaccine among the elderly and the decision of the Spanish health authorities to veto its use to people over 55 years of age are now joined by doubts about its efficiency against one of the new much more contagious strains of the Covid virus - the South African one.

Hours before the autonomous regions began to distribute the vials of AstraZeneca among their vaccination centres, the South African government announced that it was suspending the massive inoculation of the prophylaxis after publishing a study that reveals that the formula provides minimal protection against mild to moderate infections caused by the dominant coronavirus variant in the country, although it does seem to work in the most severe cases.

Experts from Spain’s Ministry of Health said last week that they would exclusively use the AstraZeneca vials for the vaccination of social and health workers not on the front-line - as well as dentists - as long as they have not reached the age of 55 and have no previous pathologies.

Spain is one of the countries with the most restrictions against the AstraZeneca vaccine. France, Germany, Poland, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Greece and Portugal have imposed age limits, in most cases, 65 years, to inject the AstraZeneca formula.

AstraZeneca has announced that it is already working on a new vaccine that is effective against the South African strain and that it could be ready in the autumn.

“It is easy to adapt the technology. It will be like working on the flu vaccine,” explained the director of the pharmaceutical giant’s vaccination programme, Sarah Gilbert, speaking on the BBC.