Public Policy Dynamics Spain #3
Health and Politics in Spain
|Total COVID-19 cases:||3,023,601|
|14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:||630|
|Total COVID-19 deaths:||63,704|
- The Spanish political agenda is marked by the regional elections in Catalonia, which will be held on Sunday (14 Februrary) with a forecast drop in participation due to the health crisis and the prediction of a tripartite in the Government. On the national level, concern about the increase in the number of people under temporary unemployment has led the Government to plan direct aid to business and accelerate the issuance of public debt.
- New appointments in the Ministry of Health and related agencies are taking place after the appointment of Carolina Darias as new head of the ministry, as the health sector begins to promote calls to action under the European recovery funds framework. The National Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry has presented a strategic project focusing on Spain’s competitiveness in the pharmaceutical sector.
- The number of people infected with Covid-19 is in steady decline. Spain has vaccinated 1.77 percent of its population, butmust increase its rate 13-fold to achieve the goal of 70 percent of immunisation before the summer. Most regions remain local lockdowns and curfews to tackle this third wave of Covid-19.
- On Sunday (14 February), Catalonia is holding decisive regional elections, the results of which will have direct consequences for national politics. A drop in turnout is foreseeable due to the health emergency, as well as an increase in postal voting. The degree of mobilisation will be decisive in the face of what are expected to be very tight results; the latest polls show a three-way tie between the Socialist party (with around 22% of the vote) and the nationalist parties Junts per Catalunya and Esquerra Republicana (around 20% of the vote each). On the centrist and conservative spectrum, there is uncertainty in the distribution of votes between the Ciudadanos party, People’s party and VOX.
- The formation of the next Catalan government is open to negotiation between different political groups, since the parliamentary majority requires 68 seats and it is unlikely that a single party, or even two, will achieve a majority. Two combinations seem the most likely: a broad coalition of pro-independence parties or one of left-wing parties.
- In addition to political effects, the Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the country's economy. More than 700,000 people are in exceptional employment status (with salaries supported by the State), with fears that this will lead to future unemployment as businesses close, especially in the tourism and hospitality sector. In order to curb the impact, the government this week announced that it will reform the legal framework to transfer direct public aid to companies, partly from European recovery funds. On the other hand, the National Treasury is accelerating its financing programme, with a total debt issuance of close to €50 billion so far this year.
- After the appointment of the new Minister of Health Carolina Darias, some changes within the Ministry of Health and associated agencies are worth noting. Francisco Hernández Spínola will serve as subsecretary of health, and José Moya Otero assumes the direction of the Minister’s cabinet; Javier García del Pozo, Head of the Medicine and Health Product Prices, will become a member of the Interministerial Commission of Medicine Prices (CIPM) after the departure of former member Isabel Pineros to FarmaIndustria; and finally Dolores Fraga, adviser member of the General Directorate of Common Portfolio of Services of the HNS, will be the new interim secretary of the CIPM.
- The National Business Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Farmaindustria) has presented the Expression of Interest of the Essential Medicines and Strategic Industrial Capacities project for the value chain of the Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry in Spain. The initiative, which brings together more than 14 laboratories, responds to the concern, noted during the pandemic, of the excessive dependence on Asian countries in the production of active ingredients and essential medicines. The objectives of the project are twofold: on the one hand, to increase strategic manufacturing capabilities to provide greater guarantees in the supply of strategic medicines for our country and, on the other, to improve the productive competitiveness of the pharmaceutical industry in Spain through training in knowledge, technology and digitalisation.
- The Spanish Medicines Agency (AEMPS) has issued a marketing authorisation for the first non-industrially manufactured CAR-T therapy developed in Europe, by the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, for the treatment of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia resistant to conventional treatments who until now had no other therapeutic options. This exceptional authorisation for use is significative in Spain, as it is the first treatment with genetically modified cells developed in Europe to achieve this. This authorisation is part of the Plan to address Advanced Therapies in the Spanish NHS.
- As of 10 February, Spain has confirmed 3,023,601 cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, while the number of deaths reaches 63,704. The country is at an extreme risk of infection, with an incidence of 584 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
- Regarding the vaccination campaign, 2,914,755 doses have already been distributed in Spain, of which a total of 2,233,249 have been administered, representing 76.6% of the doses received. Spain has vaccinated 1.77% of its population. To reach the goal of vaccinating 70% before the summer, vaccination should be running 13 times higher than it currently is. During the Interterritorial Health Council on 10 February, the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, announced the receipt of 228,000 new doses of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, which will be administered to people under 55 years of age given the lack of sufficient clinical trial results in older subjects. Darias also forecast that Janssen's vaccine will be authorised and could be administered from April onwards.
- The regions of Asturias and Castilla y León demonstrate the highest immunisation rates, with the Balearic Islands and the Basque Country having administered the fewest per person. This is not surprising since the Balearic Islands have received as few as half the doses relative to its population size compared with Asturias or Castilla y León.
- Partial lockdowns continue in most regions, as do curfews. During the ongoing third wave of the pandemic, most regions have opted to enact one of the most restrictive measures: municipal confinement. La Rioja, Navarra, Ibiza and Galicia only allow the meeting of cohabitants, while the majority of the country allows the meeting of 4 or up to 10 people. In addition to these restrictions, the Government has decided to extend until 2 March the limitation of flights from the UK, Brazil and South Africa.