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Spain blames EU for dwindling COVID-19 vaccine supplies - El Mundo

MADRID, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Spain’s health ministry is blaming the European Union for delays to COVID-19 vaccine deliveries that forced Madrid to halt new inoculations and threatened supplies across Spain, newspaper El Mundo quoted a leaked official document as saying.

With stocks dwindling and new infections near record levels, regional authorities in Madrid have stopped vaccinating new people and are using their remaining supplies to administer second shots to those who have already received a first jab.

Facing criticism from some regions, the central government pointed the finger at Brussels for the supply problems in a draft agenda for a summit of regional health chiefs due to be held later on Thursday.

“It is the European Union that negotiates and signs the contracts, that is in charge of tracking them and making sure they are correctly fulfilled,” the document read, according to El Mundo.

The EU’s vaccination programme, already lagging behind Britain, Israel and the United States, has hit further snags in the past week as pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca announced planned deliveries would be severely delayed.

Meanwhile, the number of Spaniards willing to receive a shot as soon as it becomes available has risen to nearly 73% from around 40% a month ago, according to an official poll by the Centre for Sociological Studies (CIS).

Editorials published on Thursday in conservative-leading El Mundo and left-wing El Pais, Spain’s two biggest newspapers, criticised the bloc’s handling of the vaccine program.

“Compared with the action of other executives, the EU has been slow to act and signed contracts (with suppliers) later, which is now proving to be a problem,” El Pais wrote.

Data released on Wednesday showed Spain had administered some 1.4 million doses, about 78% of its current stocks.

Spain’s cumulative infections now total more than 2.7 million and the death toll is more than 57,000.

Reporting by Nathan Allen and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Timothy Heritage

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