Spain has suffered from the Wuhan coronavirus to about the same extent (measured by per capita deaths) as the nations it makes the most sense to compare it with — France and Portugal. Spain has been slightly less hard hit than Italy, the UK, and U.S., though I doubt the difference between per capita deaths in Spain and the U.S. is statistically meaningful.
When it comes to vaccinations, however, Spain is really struggling. As of May 6, only 12.7 percent of its population had been fully vaccinated. In the U.S., the number was 38 percent. In the UK it was 25 percent.
A report from a family friend in Barcelona gives a human face to these numbers. She is in her mid-60s. Her husband just turned 70. Neither has been vaccinated yet.
Because the husband is now 70, he will receive the Pfizer vaccine. Because the wife is still in her 60s, she will be eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
I found this age-based differentiation jarring, but I guess it makes sense. If Spain doesn’t have enough top-tier vaccine to go around, it’s reasonable to reserve that vaccine for the most vulnerable age groups and to administer an inferior vaccine, which it purchased in abundance, to those at lesser risk.
Because of skepticism about the AstraZeneca vaccine, and because Spain bought so much of it, folks in their 50s will also start receiving shots with that product. But, as I said, thus far neither the 70 year-old husband nor the mid-60s wife has received any vaccine.
Spain actually has a very slightly higher vaccination rate than Italy and France. The problem is an EU matter, not a uniquely Spanish one.
But apparently, it’s easier to get the Pfizer vaccine in France than in Spain. That’s what our friend says, anyway. She plans to visit France, where she is a citizen and property owner, to receive the superior vaccine, which France now has in relative abundance.
Like Spain, France also has a large amount of unused AstraZeneca vaccine — a quarter of its stock of that product. However, France apparently isn’t trying to get rid of that stock by forcing those under age-70 to take this vaccine or go unvaccinated for now. In fact, as of the end of April, AstraZeneca was banned in France for people under age-55 due to concerns about blood clots.
To quote Chuck Berry, I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the USA.