Spain is in the process of creating a registry of people who refuse to roll up their sleeves for a coronavirus vaccine and will share this information with other European Union member states, according to the country’s Health Minister Salvador Illa.
“What we will have is a registry, that will also be shared with our European partners … of those who have been offered it and rejected it,” he said in an interview with the broadcaster La Sexta on Monday.
“The document will not be made public and it will be done with the utmost respect for the legislation on data protection.”
After Illa’s television interview, Maria Jesus Lamas, the director of Spain’s Medicines Agency, told the country’s SER radio that the new registry would be used “to understand the causes behind declining the vaccination … doubt or rejection.”
She later added: “The registry is anonymous. There’s no chance of identifying anyone in the registry.”
One poll conducted earlier this month that surveyed about 3,800 people across Spain found that about 41 percent of respondents were willing to get the coronavirus vaccine immediately, while 16 percent said they would do so if the vaccine was shown to be “reliable.”
Spain’s coronavirus vaccine campaign was launched on Sunday, with the first dose given to a ninety-six-year-old woman living in a nursing home. The government is striving to vaccinate between fifteen and twenty million people by June.
Over the course of the eleven-month-long pandemic, Spain has been one of the hardest-hit nations in Europe. On Monday, it became the fourth European nation to surpass 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus—after the United Kingdom, Italy, and France, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Globally, Spain has the ninth-largest number of coronavirus cases at more than 1.8 million, and the tenth highest number of deaths.
For weeks, the nation’s health officials have sounded the alarm about a potential third wave.
“We cannot and should not rule it out,” Illa told the broadcaster TVE on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, the Spanish Health Ministry and the Carlos III Health Institute presented results of a seroprevalence study that revealed that 9.9 percent of Spain’s forty-seven million population have developed antibodies after being exposed to COVID-19.
The research suggested that at least 4.7 million people, much higher than the official figure of 1.8 million, have contracted the virus so far, with janitors and those working in nursing homes showing the highest prevalence of antibodies.
“One in ten people living in Spain would have been infected … half during the first wave and the other half during this second epidemic wave,” Raquel Yotti, the director of the Carlos III Health Institute, said in a statement.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.