Spain is on track for herd immunity, PM says

33mln compatriots will be vaccinated by mid-August

  
Faithfuls react as they stand before the statues of Cristo de Medinaceli and the Virgen de los Dolores, at Jesus de Medinaceli basilica, after annual Holy Week processions were cancelled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Madrid, Spain, April 1, 2021.

Faithfuls react as they stand before the statues of Cristo de Medinaceli and the Virgen de los Dolores, at Jesus de Medinaceli basilica, after annual Holy Week processions were cancelled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Madrid, Spain, April 1, 2021.

Reuters/Susana Vera

MADRID- More than two thirds of Spain's 47 million people will have been vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-August, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday.

The vaccination rollout has sped up over the past weeks and Spain is due to receive 13 million doses of Pfizer vaccine next month, Sanchez told a conference in Madrid.

"We are on track for herd immunity: 33 million compatriots will be vaccinated by mid-August", he said, using the term for when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease.

A growing number of people over 60-years-old are now getting their second shot, with more than 40% already fully inoculated, and vaccination has also started for those over 50.

At least three regions - Comunidad Valenciana, Castille and Leon, and Catalonia - have said they would start vaccinating people aged 40-50 by mid-June.

Spain has reported 79,208 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 3.5 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic. But the number of cases per 100,000 people over 14 days has fallen to 174, from 523 in mid-January.

If the trend upholds, masks could stop being mandatory outdoors by July or August, the leader of the northwestern region of Galicia, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, said.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo, Writing by Emma Pinedo Editing by Ingrid Melander and Angus MacSwan) ((Inti.Landauro@thomsonreuters.com;))

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