Saturday, December 4

Sánchez sets a new goal to reach 90% of vaccinated without daring to set a date


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The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, wanted to celebrate the «collective success» of having 70% of the Spanish population with the complete schedule in the place where it all began: in the nursing home in Guadalajara where 96-year-old Araceli Hidalgo received the first vaccine to be inoculated in Spain. It was the first step in an immunization campaign that has served as an example in Europe. None with a similar or larger population, 47.45 million, has managed to vaccinate faster, according to data from the University of Oxford Our World in Data.

With this percentage of the immunized population, we celebrate that more than 33 million Spaniards are already protected against the new coronavirus and they are less likely to die or suffer the severe form of Covid.

But this goal is no longer the end goal. When Sánchez’s team calculated the 70% milestone the supercontagious Delta variant did not exist and it was believed that by reaching such a degree of immunity, we would have the desired group immunity. That moment, in which the virus would stop circulating and we would return to normal. “70% of the vaccinated population is no longer a goal of success, it is not enough”, corroborates Africa González, professor of Immunology at the Center for Biomedical Research at the University of Vigo.

The next goal is 90% of those vaccinated. Although now already Sánchez does not dare to launch a countdown and set a date at that moment. In Guadalajara, where he was photographed with Araceli, he limited himself to congratulating himself on a “commitment achieved and an objective accomplished.” “We have achieved 70% and we are now going for 90%.” The President of the Government was accompanied by the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, and the President of the Junta de Castilla-la Mancha, Emiliano García-Page.

Nine million unvaccinated

Spanish society has been committed to vaccination, but the way to achieve it is not easy. There are still 9 million Spaniards without vaccination. Only in those older than 80 years has one hundred percent coverage been achieved.

The objective is to continue with the vaccination campaign to achieve the highest degree of population coverage possible. The desirable would be to reach one hundred percent of the citizens of more than 12 years. With an aging population, 85-90% of those immunized could be reached without inoculating the vaccine to those under 12 years of age. The smallest, although infected, do not become seriously ill and it would not make sense to expose them to the side effects of the vaccine. In the absence of studies confirming the validity of vaccination in children under 12 years of age, he believes that it would not make sense to vaccinate them.

The Delta variant has disrupted the plans of all governments. The new coronavirus no longer looks much like the one that emerged in the Chinese town of Wuhan. New versions of the virus become more efficient and escape human defenses. Without European vaccination coverage, the fifth wave would have been a death trap. The answer to control it must still be to vaccinate and vaccinate and the faster the better. And until a large proportion of the planet is protected, the efforts of Western countries will be of little use.

If it is not Delta it could be another variant, like Mu, now under surveillance by the World Health Organization. The good news is that while the immune system has a hard time learning, it eventually does. Africa González, author of the popular book ‘Inmunopower’, considers that “The virus would have to change a lot for the mortality and disease peaks like the ones we had in the first wave to return”. This immunologist is positive: «Either because we have passed the infection or because of the vaccines, each time we will lead a more normalized life. There will be hospital admissions, but we will live with the virus as we already do with other coronaviruses and we will lead a normalized life. Time will tell if we need a third dose or a new vaccine adapted to the new variants.

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