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Spain to donate surplus vaccines to third world and refugees, without affecting national immunisation programme
20 January 2021 @ 22:49

SPAIN will donate a percentage of the vaccines against Covid it purchases to third-world countries, specifically to refugee and asylum-seeking communities in parts of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, where availability of immunisation drugs is not guaranteed for at least 20% of the population. 

Staff at Pfizer package up vaccines for export

It is not yet clear how many of the 140 million doses due to arrive in Spain will be sent to these countries – most of which Spain already has humanitarian aid relations with – but the donations will not affect the roll-out nationally.

The speed at which Spain carries out its national immunisation programme is not dictated by availability or cost of vaccines, but by human resources and other facilities such as space – it would not be physically possible to jab everyone in the country within weeks, which is why vaccine doses are being 'drip-fed' into countries weekly, so supplies do not exceed storage or administration capacity and 'go off', being wasted.

The Council of Ministers has agreed on a Universal Charity Vaccination Access Plan which is separate to the European-wide programme aimed at donating around 5% of acquired vaccines to countries and communities in need.

Governments across the EU agree that until the whole world is vaccinated, nobody is completely safe, given that movement of people and goods will necessarily continue and could lead to the virus continuing to spread even after the first world is immunised.

Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday that it would be a 'regrettable moral catastrophe' if wealthier countries, like Spain and the rest of Europe, failed to help out in getting the planet's poorest populations immunised.

Some of the most needy communities are, in fact, in Europe already: Refugee camps in Greece, still housing those displaced by the armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and Libya, among others, have been homes to these people for many years, a situation that appears unlikely to change in the near future, and where Covid outbreaks can lead to widespread tragedy.

It is not clear, either, when Spain will start to donate vaccines, but this will probably be when the national immunisation programme is well underway with the most vulnerable residents and key or front-line workers' having all received their second doses, perhaps at a time when the only ones remaining are the physically-healthy under-65s who are not in high-risk jobs.



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