13th Jul 2020 @ 9:10 am

Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, has predicted that a vaccine against coronavirus will probably be ready to be administered to the population in the second quarter of 2021.

Illa said that the vaccine “could be delayed or could arrive early” and assured the public that EU countries were working together to ensure an equitable distribution of the vaccine.

In the meantime, while no vaccine exists, Illa said that the populace must learn to live with the virus “without fear, but with respect.”

”There are outbreaks now, and there will be more,” he said, highlighting the importance of early detection and swift action to control outbreaks.

In Spain, twelve vaccine projects are currently being developed, five of which are at the stage of being tested on animal subjects. Four of these are on course to be cleared for human testing by the end of the year. 

Spain’s vaccine projects are not as advanced as others, such as the promising one at the University of Oxford, and none of the Spanish projects expect to have results before the end of next year, but Spanish-developed vaccines could still prove important.

Voluntary or compulsory?

Once a vaccine is developed and available, governments will face the decision to make administration voluntary or compulsory. A recent Yougov survey revealed that almost one in six Britons would refuse a coronavirus vaccine, while surveys in the USA have shown that almost a quarter of Americans (24%) would refuse to get vaccinated.

Figures for Spanish attitudes towards a potential coronavirus vaccine are unavailable, but a recent survey undertaken for the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases showed that Spanish parents are the most supportive in Europe when it comes to vaccinating their children, with 93% fully pro-vaccination.  

The antivaxx movement in Spain currently remains far smaller than in countries such as the UK or Germany. Meanwhile, recent statements by the popular singer Miguel Bosé, who believes that a vaccine will contain “smart dust” developed by Bill Gates that will allow 5G technology to control people, have attracted more ridicule than support.

Nevertheless, Spanish government spokeswoman María José Montero hinted last month that Spain may, if necessary, adopt as tough an approach towards vaccination as it did with its lockdown. When asked about the effects of Bosé’s statements and the anti-vaccination movement in general, she replied “The health service must be very strict, because it’s not just about protecting your own health, but that of all those around you including the most vulnerable.”