The strain in Spain: Emergence of new variants means rethinking 70% ‘herd immunity’ vaccination target

Spain is on target to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of August, the ‘herd immunity’ threshold that was established as a goal at the start of the year.

However, despite the success of Spain’s vaccination programme, experts believe that the emergence of new strains means a rethink is needed.

When the 70% goal was set, it was believed that this would enable Spain to reach herd immunity, generally thought of as the point when so many people are protected against the virus that it cannot spread and ends up disappearing.

But according to many scientists the threshold now needs to be much higher thanks to the emergence of more contagious strains of the virus, including the Delta which is now prevalent in Spain.

Experts now believe that between 85% and 90% of the population now needs to be immune before the virus could begin to be eliminated.

According to the latest data from Spain’s Health Ministry, more than 63% of the population has now been fully vaccinated.

This makes Spain a leader in Europe’s virus vaccination drive against Covid-19 surpassing the rates of Italy (57%), France (51%), German (56).

It has also overtaken the UK (59%) and the US (51%)

Nine out of 10 people aged over 40 are fully vaccinated in Spain, according to the latest figures, and health authorities in all regions are now putting efforts into vaccinating those who still haven’t been jabbed. 

Five regions now offer the possibility of vaccinations without prior appointment at centres which are open 24 hours.

Meanwhile appointments are being scheduled for the over-12s in a bid to start vaccinations before the start of the school year.

A Covid-19 vaccine has not yet been approved for children under the age of 12, who make up 11% of the population.

The Delta variant is by far the most dominant strain now in Spain accounting for 86% of all new cases detected across Spain by the end of July. This rises to 96% in Valencia and 91% in the Balearic Islands while the region of Castilla y Leon has the highest rate (18.3%) of the Gamma and Beta variants.


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