Today is an important day because it could become the beginning of the end of a nightmare. The first vaccines against covid-19 begin to be administered in Spain in a campaign that has started simultaneously throughout the European Union and that in the next 12 weeks will allow to immunize 2.3 million Spaniards who due to their pathologies, their age or their profession are at high risk.
The start of vaccination opens a time of hope just as the pandemic, which has already reached more than 25 million Europeans, is heading towards a third wave.
Vaccination is essential,That is why it is important that all citizens go to be immunized as they are called to do so, with the peace of mind that the approved vaccines have been subjected to the necessary efficacy and safety tests.
When the WHO declared a global emergency on January 30, few could imagine that by the end of the year the virus would have infected 80 million people and claimed 1,750,000 lives , while paralyzing the economy and exchanges on a planetary level.
But it was also not foreseeable that before the end of the year we would have not one but several safe and effective vaccines that have been developed in record time.
Since China released the genetic sequence of the virus on January 12, thousands of scientists have worked to find a way to immunize the population, but also to improve treatments and essential tools to detect the disease, such as PCR tests and rapid detection tests.
Although vaccinations began in Europe a few days later than in the United Kingdom and the United States, the important thing is that a joint strategy has been applied that includes both the reservation and acquisition of the vials and their simultaneous and equitable distribution.
It is reason to congratulate itself that this was possible after a first reaction to the pandemic marked by chaos and lack of solidarity. The EU knew how to learn from its own mistakes and has not repeated the unfortunate initial struggle that was fought between countries to get the available breathing apparatus and protective equipment.
This time it has acted as a true union of countries and has set an important precedent for future crises: it is always better to cooperate than compete.
Spain also has to learn from its own mistakes. After a late and ineffective reaction, it was one of the countries that most determinedly applied the confinement necessary to contain the pandemic.
He managed to roll the virus back to manageable levels, but failed to maintain the advantage gained at a huge sacrifice. A de-escalation managed by the autonomous communities that was too fast, and in some cases even reckless, caused a resurgence that led to a long and deadly second wave.
The management of the pandemic suffered when some political forces used it from the governments they preside over as an instrument of partisan struggle.
The coronavirus is being a severe stress test, not only of management capacity, but of the way of doing politics. The president of Madrid this week has made a threat to use the vaccination campaign for her strategy of attrition of the Government. It shouldn’t be around.
The criteria for the distribution of the vaccine according to the population and by risk groups are reasonable and agreed upon. Insinuating grievances that do not exist is totally unacceptable.
Spain is committed, through the EU, to the purchase of different vaccines and will receive enough doses to immunize more than 80 million people. Vaccination needs are covered, but important unknowns remain to be resolved, including whether vaccines, in addition to avoiding contracting the disease,
In any case, the start of vaccination cannot mean that you forget that the virus continues to spread and that prevention measures and physical distancing will have to continue for months. Christmas began with more than 10,000 people admitted, almost 2,000 of them in critical units.
The curve of new infections continues to rise. On Thursday we reached 262 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, with which we exceeded the 250 accumulated incidence that marks the extreme risk threshold. Until now it has always been behind the virus, with a more reactive than proactive strategy.
It is essential to change that dynamic. It has been shown that as soon as the guard is lowered, the virus spreads again and that the later it is intervened, the more it costs to reduce infections and deaths, and the more the economy is damaged.
As long as the vaccine has not reached the entire population, it will be necessary to continue fighting with the containment weapons that have proven to be effective. It is the only possible strategy.
Until more than 70% of the population has been vaccinated, we will not be in a position to achieve the herd immunity that prevents the virus from circulating and reproducing. Therefore, it is necessary to persist in restrictions and self-protection measures.
The arrival of vaccines should not lead us to an excess of confidence that can pay dearly, but to the contrary: it should be an incentive to maintain solidarity with others and especially with the most vulnerable.