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Madrid may shut down mass vaccination centres unless more shots arrive

Fri 16th April, 2021 2:19pm
MADRID, April 16 (Reuters) - A shortage of coronavirus shots
may force the Madrid region to close down mass vaccination
centres next week, the regional public health chief said on
Friday, as infections in the Spanish capital outpace the
national average. 
    Madrid, whose administration has long been at loggerheads
with the central government on the pandemic response,
administers around 275,000 shots per week, but is due to receive
just 157,900 doses of the Pfizer  PFE.N  and BioNTech  22UAy.DE 
vaccine next week, Antonio Zapatero told reporters.
    "If this situation continues we'll have to close the mass
vaccination centres," he said. "Without vaccines, there is no
point in having such a big operation." 
    A health ministry spokeswoman said batches of AstraZeneca
and Moderna vaccines due next week should avoid any such
situations.
    Health officials in the northeastern region of Catalonia,
which is yet to start mass vaccinations at large venues, said
the pace of its inoculation campaign depended on deliveries and
called for a larger number of Astrazeneca shots.
    Like other European cities, Madrid has converted big venues
such as Atletico Madrid's Wanda football stadium into injection
points in an effort to speed up a sluggish vaccination campaign.
    But senior Madrid health official Elena Andradas complained
the region had been receiving less than its fair share of doses,
hampering efforts to inoculate vulnerable age groups. The region
has around 130,000 doses in stock, she added.
    Spain has registered nearly 3.4 million cases and 76,882
deaths from COVID-19.
    Despite delays to the deployment of the one-shot Johnson &
Johnson vaccine over blood-clot concerns, Spain still expects to
have half its 47-million population fully inoculated by late
July.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2M73TC
    The national government distributes vaccines among regions,
which are responsible for health policy, an arrangement that has
inflamed existing tensions with Madrid. 
    Led by maverick conservative Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who is
running for re-election, Madrid has consistently opted for
looser restrictions than the rest of Spain.
    Public health experts have cited Ayuso's insistence on
keeping bars and restaurants open as a key factor for the
capital's high 14-day infection rate, which on Thursday reached
349 cases per 100,000 people against the national average of
202.

 (Reporting by Nathan Allen and Joan Faus, editing by Andrei
Khalip and Angus MacSwan)
 ((n.allen@thomsonreuters.com; +34 617 792 131;))
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