COVID-19: Vaccination delays in Spain due to 'Pfizer logistics issue', minister says

·3-min read

Spain is facing a delay in a fresh delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, due to a Pfizer "logistics issue", the country's health minister says.

Salvador Illa says a temperature control issue during the process of loading and sending out the vaccine led to the incident, but the problem has now been resolved.

He said a new batch of the vaccine will now be delivered on Tuesday instead of Monday.

As Europe launched its vaccine push, the first Spanish doses were given on Sunday at a care home in the central city of Guadalajara, near the capital Madrid.

The first person in Spain to receive the vaccination was 96-year-old Araceli Hidalgo, who thanked God as she received the jab.

Speaking in an interview with Cadena SER radio station, Illa said that he expects around 70% of the country's population to be immunized by the end of the summer.

Spain has so far seen 49,824 deaths from COVID-19, and 1,854,951 confirmed cases.

The distribution of the first 200 million doses to Europe is set to be completed by September, according to a spokesman for the EU Commission.

He said that further talks are under way to agree the delivery of a further 100 million additional doses.

The European Medicines Agency approved the vaccine on 21 December, with the aim of ending the coronavirus pandemic and vaccinating all adults by the end of 2021.

Spain is not the first country to be affected by logistical issues due to strict temperature restrictions around the vaccine.

Germany faced delays over the weekend, after GPS temperature trackers showed 1,000 shots may not have been kept cold enough during transit in a number of areas in the state of Bavaria.

Christian Meissner, who is the district administrator for the town of Lichtenfels, told Reuters TV: "BioNTech commented and said that the vaccine was probably OK, but probably OK is not enough."

The shots had been intended for the towns of Lichtenfels, Coburg, Kronach, Kulmbach, Hof, Bayreuth and Wunsiedel in northern Bavaria.

The vaccine must be stored at very low temperatures of about -70C (-112F), before being transported to distribution centres in specially designed cool boxes filled with dry ice.

Once out of ultra-low temperature storage, the vaccine must be kept at 2C to 8C to remain effective for up to five days.

The country's vaccination campaign has also been overshadowed after eight workers in a care home received an overdose.

Authorities said the workers in Stralsund city received five times the recommended dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine on Sunday.

Four went to hospital for observation after developing flu-like symptoms.

The 27 EU nations have recorded at least 16 million coronavirus infections and more than 336,000 deaths, although real numbers are likely to be higher due to limited testing particularly early on in the pandemic.

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Meanwhile, a new variant of COVID-19 that has been found in every part of the UK, has also been detected in France and Spain.

The new strain, named VUI-202012/01, is up to 70% more transmissible.

While experts are confident the vaccine will work against this new variant, further tests will need to take place to be completely certain.