MADRID (Reuters) – Spain on Tuesday increased the pace of its campaign to inoculate people against COVID-19, with close to 140,000 people vaccinated, but only 18.7% of the doses received had been administered and disparities between regions remained.
Spain has administered 139,339 doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine so far out of the 743,925 distributed to the country’s 17 regions – who manage health care – since the European Union approved the vaccine two weeks ago, Spain’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
It was a significant increase from the prior day when 82,834 people were inoculated, health minister Salvador Illa said late on Monday, stressing that the goal was to have between 15 million and 20 million Spaniards vaccinated by May or June.
Spanish doctors and health experts have expressed frustration at the slow start of the country’s vaccination campaign, echoing similar complaints in other European countries.
The inoculation campaign has been unequal within Spain. The northern region of Asturias is in the lead, having administered 54.5% of the doses it received, while the rate in the neighbouring region of Cantabria is only 5.1%, according to the Health Ministry.
Spain has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, with over 51,000 deaths and close to 2 million cases. The number of fatalities grew on Tuesday by 352 from Monday’s Health Ministry report, while the number of cases by 23,700 as some regions tightened their restrictions.
(Reporting by Joan Faus; editing by Jonathan Oatis)