A health worker receives an injection with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. | SERGIO PEREZ


Spain aims for all its nursing home residents to have received a first dose of vaccine against the coronavirus by the end of the week, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting.

Since kicking off its vaccination campaign at the end of December and with new infections on the rise, Spain has focused its efforts on inoculating elderly nursing-home residents who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

During the first wave of infection from March-May the virus devastated the care-home population, killing some 20,000 people, according to preliminary data reported by El Pais newspaper and broadcaster RTVE. The total official death toll from the virus now stands at 52,275.

From Jan. 18, health authorities will begin administering the second round of the double-dose Pfizer-BioNTech jab to the earliest recipients of the first shot.

"We believe this week Spain will reach cruising speed in its vaccination plan," Illa said, adding the inosculation drive continued in many places despite the chaos caused by Storm Filomena.

Spain took delivery of 35,700 doses of U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna's recently-approved vaccine on Tuesday morning, and expects to receive 600,000 doses by the third week of February, Illa said.

Health ministry data showed some 406,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been administered by Monday, about 55% of total stocks.

The inoculation campaign is all the more important given a sharp rise in contagion since the Christmas holidays.

The northern Castile and Leon region urged citizens to adhere to a voluntary confinement, though it lacks the power to legally enforce a lockdown.

Nationwide, Spain reported 25,438 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the cumulative total up to 2,137,220, while the death toll climbed by 408 to 52,683.
Measured over the past 14 days the incidence of the virus reached 454 cases per 100,000 people, doubling since Dec. 21.