The Ministry of Health in Spain is already preparing to administer a third 'booster' dose of coronavirus vaccines, although it has not yet received the anticipated endorsement of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The experts that make up the Vaccine Report committee, the body that advises the Spanish ministry on the vaccination campaign, are studying who should receive this third jab and when it should be administered, the Minister of Health Carolina Darias explained this Wednesday (25 August) after the weekly meeting of the Interterritorial Health Council.
However, these preparations do not mean that the decision about the third dose has already been made. Instead the Health department has delayed its decision for at least one more week, until more scientific information is available.
Darias said that the experts are following a "rigorous" process and waiting to see two new studies from Pfizer and Moderna, as well as waiting to hear the opinion of the European Medicines Agency, which was originally scheduled for the beginning of this week. However, Darias made it clear that her department will have the last word. "The EMA's decision is always important, as is knowing the results of clinical trials, but the decision will be made by Spain’s public health authorities.”
"But we are ready to administer the third dose," she insisted.
All the indications point to the fact that Spain will give a booster dose and that it will be administered, first, to residents of nursing home and to immunosuppressed people. "There is beginning to be a certain consensus about the fact that these groups have a lower level of antibodies than others," Darias pointed out.
Regarding the date on which this possible jab could be administered, she explained that experts are studying it could coincide with the flu vaccine, which is given from October onwards.
If Spain does go ahead with it will fly in the face of the World Health Organization advice, which insists that injecting a third dose in rich countries represents serious discrimination against the poor. It is an opinion shared by many experts, who warn that it is of little use to have a triple-vaccinated population in Spain if the virus circulates widely in other countries where variants that escape the vaccines may arise.
"It does not mean that we are distancing ourselves from the WHO", claimed Darias, adding, "We always follow scientific and ethical criteria."