Spain plans to fully vaccinate 53% of population by late July

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A police officer receives his first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain is accelerating vaccination against COVID-19 and will fully vaccinate 25 million people by late July, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday, also confirming the end-August target of inoculating 70% of all Spaniards.

"The pace of vaccination will accelerate in April and then each month we will improve the vaccination pace from the previous month," Sanchez told a news conference, attributing a slow start of the campaign to delivery delays by vaccine maker Astrazeneca across the European Union.

The July target covers 53% of Spain's 47 million-strong population.

Sanchez said the number of those fully vaccinated will surpass the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases, which on Monday stood at 3.3 million, by next week.

The government's aim is not to extend a state of emergency, which expires on May 9 after being in force for six months, if the epidemiological numbers allow, he added.

The country will receive 87 million vaccine doses between April and September, Sanchez said, with second-quarter delivery volumes expected to exceed the January-March level by 3.5 times. In the third quarter alone, Spain should take delivery of 48 million doses.

Data released on Monday showed around 5.7 million people had received at least one shot, while 2.8 million had received a full course of two doses.

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Belen Carreno, Nathan Allen, Aida Pelaez-Fernandez, editing by Andrei Khalip)