Catalonia demands Spain approve AstraZeneca jab for over-55s

In a joint article published Wednesday in the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia, Vergés and Argimon pointed out that France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Belgium, and Andorra have allowed the AstraZeneca jab to be administered to people above the age of 55 following recent studies that support its efficacy and safety. [EFE/ Alejandro García]

Catalonia’s regional government has issued an ultimatum to the central Spanish government in Madrid demanding it approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for people over the age of 55, warning that “either they act or we will act,” EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.

In a joint article published in newspaper La Vanguardia on Wednesday (10 March), Calatonia’s regional Health Minister Alba Vergés and the region’s Public Health Secretary Josep Maria Argimon pointed to similar moves by other European countries in recent weeks including France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Sweden.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was initially withheld for use on older people in a number of European countries but the ban has been overturned in many places after recent studies have supported its efficacy in all age groups.

The demand was echoed on Wednesday by the head of the Catalan Association of Doctors, Jaume Padrós, who has demanded Vergés “soon” overrule the central government and give permission for all age groups to receive the AstraZeneca jab in the region.

Padrós told regional media his position is based on “ethical, clinical, risk and evidence criteria” and is supported by the majority of Catalan medics. 

Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias said last week that the country was not considering lifting the ban.

Restrictions over Easter 

Meanwhile, Spain’s lockdown has been extended to last beyond the Easter holiday, according to an agreement struck by regional governments and Darias late on Wednesday.

Almost all regions will remain under a “perimetre lockdown” meaning no one can enter or leave the territories without a valid reason such as heading to work, seeking medical treatment, or to care for a sick or elderly person. 

Exempted from lockdowns are the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, two of Spain’s main tourist destinations, for which a negative PCR test remains a mandatory entry requirement.

The lockdown extension came as Spain’s health ministry said 3.4 million people, or 7.3% of the population, have now been vaccinated against the coronavirus. This means the number of vaccinations has now surpassed Spain’s total number of infections, which stands at about 3.1 million.

Spain’s current state of alarm is due to expire on 9 May. 

[Edited by Daniel Eck and Josie Le Blond]

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