‘Substantial’ part of Spanish population to be vaccinated in first half of 2021, PM says

‘Substantial’ part of Spanish population to be vaccinated in first half of 2021, PM says
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the government will unveil a coronavirus vaccination plan. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 21 November 2020

‘Substantial’ part of Spanish population to be vaccinated in first half of 2021, PM says

‘Substantial’ part of Spanish population to be vaccinated in first half of 2021, PM says
  • The supply of the vaccine is part of an EU scheme and it could start reaching Spain in December “if there are no delays,” he said at the time

MADRID: Spain will have vaccinated a large part of its population of 47 million against the coronavirus by mid-2021, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Friday.
He said the government had put together “a comprehensive vaccination plan” that would be presented at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, making Spain the first within the EU, alongside Germany, to fully map out such an immunization scheme.
“We are ready,” Sanchez said, indicating the government had been working on the plan since September.
“Our forecasts, under almost any reasonable scenario, show that a very substantial part of the Spanish population will be able to be vaccinated, with all guarantees, within the first half of the year.”
The move, he said, would make Spain “the first country within the EU, along with Germany, to have a full vaccination plan.”
Spain has been badly hit by the pandemic, suffering more than 1.5 million confirmed infections — the EU’s second-highest number of cases after France.
As of Thursday night, it had also lost 42,291 lives to the virus, ranking fourth within the bloc after the United Kingdom, Italy and France.
Last month, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the government had authorized the purchase of 31.5 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine currently being developed by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
The supply of the vaccine is part of an EU scheme and it could start reaching Spain in December “if there are no delays,” he said at the time.
Major pharmaceutical companies are now closing in on vaccines against the virus which has infected more than 55 million people and caused more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide, according to an AFP tally.
US giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have taken the lead in the global chase for a vaccine alongside US firm Moderna, with the EU saying it was hoping to have both products approved for use by the year’s end.
The European Medicines Agency could give “conditional marketing authorizations ... as early as the second half of December if all proceeds now without any problem,” EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.
The EU has contracts to reserve hundreds of millions of doses of future vaccines with BioNTech, Purevac, AstraZeneca and Sanofi if they can be brought to market.
A candidate vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has also been shown to be safe and effective in a smaller study of older adults.
Earlier this week, Spain’s AEMPS medicines agency approved the country’s first phase three trial for a COVID-19 vaccine, one of nine nations to take part in the process.


Central African Republic war crimes suspect Mahamat Said surrenders to ICC

Central African Republic war crimes suspect Mahamat Said surrenders to ICC
Updated 1 min 27 sec ago

Central African Republic war crimes suspect Mahamat Said surrenders to ICC

Central African Republic war crimes suspect Mahamat Said surrenders to ICC
  • Said was the commander of the “Seleka” faction, which seized power in March 2013
  • Their brutal rule gave rise to the opposing “anti-balaka” militias, whose former leaders also face charges at the ICC
(Updates with reaction from prosecutor, details, background)
THE HAGUE: The International Criminal Court on Sunday said it had taken into custody a former Central African Republic commander of the “Seleka” faction suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In a statement the court said Mahamat Said Abdel Kain had surrendered to the court on Sunday and had been arrested under a warrant issued under seal on Jan. 7 2019, relating to alleged crimes from 2013. A date for his initial appearance in The Hague has not yet been set.
The arrest comes against the backdrop of a state of emergency in the Central African Republic, with fighting between the country’s army, backed by UN, Russian and Rwandan troops, and rebels seeking to overturn a Dec. 27 vote in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared the winner.
A judge for the court said there was reasonable grounds to believe that Said, 50, was responsible for crimes including torture, persecutions, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts.
The Central African Republic has been mired in violence since a coalition of mostly northern and predominantly Muslim rebels known as Seleka, or “alliance” in the Sango language, seized power in March 2013. Their brutal rule gave rise to the opposing “anti-balaka” Christian militias, several of whose former leaders also face charges at the ICC.
“I welcome today’s transfer of the suspect, Mr.Mahamat Saïd Abdel Kani ... to face justice for his alleged crimes as charged before the ICC,” said prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a statement.
“As I have previously stated, my office will relentlessly pursue justice for the victims of atrocities in the Central African Republic ... irrespective of which side of the conflict they may be on.”