More vaccines arrived today from Pfizer. 1.2 million doses added to the 8 million total we’ve already received in Spain. But its a drop in the bucket of the tidal wave needed to get this job done. In Spain, we need 80mm doses to get the entire population inoculated with the required two doses.
The focus here seems to be on the Astra Zeneca version. The one with the blood clot problem. The EU Medicine agency halted its use for a week, and then said the reward outweighs the risks of these weird blood clots in the brain that the Germans, Danes, Norwegians, and even the Brits are seeing. All of whom, now, are limiting the shots to those over the age of 60, because the blood clots show up in people under 60.
If we lived in any one of those countries, we would be happy they had made this change. I had a blood clot in November. I’m truly disinterested in having another one, this time in my brain. But in Spain, they are rolling right along with the strategy of giving it to all people under 65. You will get no choice, because those are the vaccines Spain is getting the most of. So our personal strategy – Jeff’s and mine – might change.
I have been reading more and more about expat Americans that are heading back to the US to camp out for a month and get the full course, before coming back to the EU. They are tired of waiting, don’t want the Astra Zeneca shot, and with force majeure both ways, they can go to the US, get either the Pfizer or Moderna (what we are calling The Good Vaccine in el Compartimento) and come back safely inoculated.
It’s not like we are looking to hop the line. I get we have to wait our turn. But I do not want that Astra Zeneca version, and if I am forced to get that here in Spain we will fly to the US, in double masks and plastic goggles, and make it happen at a Walmart or Walgreens in the first place we land. Surely, by June, it should be a piece of cake to come by.
I read the US will not approve the Astra Zeneca version and yet they have a stockpile of 5mm doses. So they are giving those to Canada and Mexico, who have approved it. I’m no fan of US healthcare, and big pharma has their fingers in the US drug approval process in a big way. This is why it seems pretty clear to me that if the US won’t approve the AZ vaccine, they know something that they are not sharing. But the Germans seems to know it, too.
I’m not an anti-vax person. I’m pro-vaccine, all the way. But I do feel that with all the issues I have experienced in the past year, I want to have a vaccine with the best chance of leaving me healthy after I get it. Why should I take a risk when there are other vaccine options? But, as of today, Spain will not give me that choice.
In the US, their philosophy is just to get the vaccine into arms. They have abandoned the group by group philosophy. The more shots in arms – even just one shot of the two shot series – the better. Everyone we know in the US has either gotten the shot or has an appointment on the schedule to get it in the next couple of weeks. These are people from 18-85. Pharmacies, school gyms, stadiums, convention centres, empty strip mall and airport parking lots, and on and on are operating as vaccination centres. They are leaving most health facilities free to handle other stuff. Actual illnesses – not just vaccines. But in Valencia, they are sticking with directing those who get the SMS message to get the jab, to the neighbourhood health centre. It just creates over crowding and limits the number of shots they can give per day.
The US handled the pandemic terribly. That was down to the Trump administrations terrible messaging and cold calculated disregard for the lives of their citizens. But when it’s comes to the vaccines, the government did what we do best in the US, they threw money at the problem. And they didn’t wait. They funded billions in research and bought up doses before there were even viable candidates. And they didn’t negotiate on price like the EU did. Because, that costs time and the US understood that He who exits this crisis first and opens their economy, wins. And that is exactly what is happening now.
Sure, you can provide amazing support for the population in the form of unemployment benefits. And pay businesses to be closed – as they have done, very well in Spain. But the Spanish economy is based on tourism. That’s the whole ball of wax on our economic engine. Every week tourists aren’t here. Every week that cafes and hotels are in some form of restriction or lock down. Every week that the internal population can’t travel. It’s another bullet to the gut of the economy. So the EU hesitating and signing contracts later than The Republic of Congo, because they wanted to haggle on the price, has cost billions to the economy in many many other ways. Its almost immeasurable. Penny wise and pound foolish.
The US will be back, perking right along as tourist season kicks into high gear this summer. Having only taken a brief hit to their GDP. And the EU? We will not be so lucky – as this vaccine rollout drags on through the height of the tourist season. Right when we could have turned a corner, we’ll find ourselves in a blind alley, waiting for help to arrive. Sure, the EU didn’t make the same mistakes of the austerity of the 2008 crisis. But they made other, similar ones. That of being tight fisted in the middle of an economic crisis – whether pandemic related or not – is yet another self inflicted wound.
We will not move back to the US, for a host of reasons. We own a home here, now. But it is hard to watch Europe stumble and struggle to look in the mirror, so they can swiftly pivot. But, swiftly pivoting is not a strong suit. And more and more, the ability to pivot is going to be the key to economic survival. I’m honestly not sure they have it in them.