Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa on Friday said he was optimistic that a vaccine could be available soon to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Speaking in a televised press conference alongside Defense Minister Margarita Robles, Illa explained that Spain was “actively participating in the European alliance for the vaccine” candidate developed by British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and if all goes well “we expect the first dose by the end of December, with the conditions of equitable distribution throughout the European Union.”
Illa said that Spain would not attempt to secure doses of the vaccine ahead of its partners in the European Union.
“There are no bilateral ways of negotiating the vaccine,” he commented, stressing that the Spanish government believed in the need for “an equitable distribution” in Europe.
The minister also confirmed that the Spanish Medicines Agency (AEM) had also given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of an anti-COVID vaccine in Spain.
The latter vaccine is being developed by the Belgian company Jansen, which is owned by the American company Johnson & Johnson.
“Phase 1 has been developed in the U.S. and in Belgium, and Phase 2 will take place in Spain, Germany and Belgium with a total of 590 participants, of whom 190 will be in Spain,” Illa said.
He said the trials would take place at the La Paz and Princesa University Hospitals in Madrid and the Marques de Valdecilla University Hospital in Santander in northern Spain and would involve test groups of healthy people aged between 18 and 55. The trial would last “for a few months.”
Illa stressed that Spain would “guarantee that all authorizations and the entire purchase process (for the vaccine) are channeled through the whole of Europe to ensure it is distributed fairly,” and explained that participation in the trial would not mean “getting more doses or getting them earlier.”
On Thursday, Spain’s Health Ministry confirmed a total of 429,507 coronavirus infections with 28,996 deaths since the beginning of the health crisis.