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European Medicines Agency authorises a third Pfizer jab for the 35.2 million over-18s in Spain

The European regulator recommends this 'booster' vaccination from six months after the second injection. And only the Pfizer formula will be used, regardless of the vaccine that was originally administered

MELCHOR SÁIZ-PARDO / ÁLVARO SOTO

The more than 35.2 million people in Spain over 18 years of age who have already had the full coronavirus vaccination schedule, or who are still receiving it, will be called again over the next six months to receive a third dose of a Covid vaccine. In all cases it will be from Pfizer, regardless of the formula they received the first time.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has this Monday, 4 October, authorised the administration of an "additional" ('booster') dose to all adults of the 27 EU member states.

Since 6 September, the EMA’s Committee for Human Medicines (CHMP), has been immersed in an "accelerated evaluation" of the application of the North American giant, Pfizer, that "shows an increase in antibody levels when a booster dose is given approximately six months after the second dose in people aged 18 to 55 years.

Delta variant

The laboratory pointed out that a third dose produces levels of antibodies against the Delta variant five times higher in people between 18 and 55 years old and more than 11 times in people between 65 and 85 years old, compared to the levels that are reached. after only two doses.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla noted two months ago that the company's own studies confirmed that the effectiveness of its vaccine with just two doses drops to 84 per cent four to six months after administration. Bourla explained that the company's data shows that the maximum effectiveness of its formula is 96.2 per cent, but only during the two months after receiving the two inoculations. Then, the effectiveness drops an average of 6 per cent every two months, according to the study by Pfizer itself, in which 44,000 people from the United States and other countries participated but which, as is the case with research on the vaccine and Delta, has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Revaccination of adults

The decision of the regulator gives the green light for universal revaccination of adults, regardless of their health status or whether they are in groups more or less exposed to the virus.

With this ruling, the EMA goes even further than authorities in the United States, United Kingdom or Israel, who had limited themselves to recommending the third jab only in the oldest age groups and certain groups of workers.

In Spain, until now, this booster dose was reserved exclusively for people with organ transplants, hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, patients receiving anti-CD20 drugs or very high-risk immunosuppressive treatments and those residents nursing homes.

Today's decision by the EMA is a near total victory for the consortium of Pfizer and BioNTech, which had actually requested authorisation to revaccinate the entire population over 16 years of age. The EMA, under pressure from most European countries, who are in favour of giving third doses to the largest number of their inhabitants, even rejected the opinion of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which considered that "a booster dose is not urgent" in the general population.

Pfizer vaccine stocks

Practically all European countries have excess stock of Pfizer doses to start this new campaign with minimal delay. In the case of Spain, the regions keep more than 4 million injectables in their refrigerators, which could begin to expire in the coming weeks if they are not released.