MADRID (Reuters) -Spain is accelerating its COVID-19 vaccination rollout and will have fully inoculated 25 million people by late July, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday, also confirming the end-August target of giving 70% of all Spaniards their shots.
“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.[nL1N2LZ0NI]
The July target covers 53% of Spain’s 47 million-strong population, or 64% of all adults, and is largely in line with the EU’s July goal of inoculating 70% of its adult 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 numbers allow, he added.
Infections have been rising steadily for around three weeks but remain far below levels seen elsewhere in Europe.
Spain 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.
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.
Separately, the Madrid regional government said on Tuesday it had met with representatives of the maker of Russia’s Sputnik V shot to “explore ways of accelerating its vaccination campaign”.
The European Medicines Agency has yet to grant its approval to Sputnik V, and Sanchez reiterated Spain would only use EMA-backed shots.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Belen Carreno, Nathan Allen, Aida Pelaez-Fernandez, editing by Andrei Khalip and Nick Macfie)