In an encouraging milestone, Spain's Health Ministry said on Tuesday that more people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 than those having tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began.
Spain's official case count is 3.43 million, while more than 3.45 million people have received both vaccine doses.
The official infection tally includes those who tested positive. But a government-backed study published last December estimated that at least 4.7 million people – or one of every ten people in the country – had antibodies to the virus. That figure was 3 million higher than the official case count at that time.
Nearly two million infections have been registered since December and the 9.58 million people have received at least one vaccine jab. Around 16.2 million people, or 35% of Spain’s population, could already have at least partial immunity to the virus.
For now, people younger than 65 who tested positive for the virus in Spain have to wait six months from the time of infection to get a vaccine. Even then, they will only receive one jab of the two-dose vaccines.
The country has a high level of vaccine acceptance. According to a new poll by Spain’s Center for Sociological Investigations, 82.2% of the population is willing to get inoculated.
But this level of immunity has not stopped new coronavirus infections from climbing in many parts of the country. The Health Ministry reported over 7,000 new cases in the last 24 hours. Another 320 people lost their lives to COVID-19, pushing the official death toll beyond 74,000.
The region of Madrid was home to nearly one-third of those cases and its infection rate is on the path to doubling the national average.
Similarly, the Basque Country, Navarra and Spain’s two African enclaves also registered more than 400 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks compared to Spain’s average of 230.