By CAPosts 08 April, 2021 - 10:25am
The Community of Madrid has decided to advance the vaccination of the 150 workers of the CSIC - the largest public science body in Spain - who have been working for months exposed to the coronavirus without receiving the vaccine, as confirmed by a spokesman for the Ministry of Health. The investigators, after official complaints and public denunciations , had managed to be summoned for the first dose around May 1, but the controversy generated by this delay has caused the Madrid authorities to rectify and readjust the agenda. The scientists, who will be vaccinated from this Thursday, will receive the injection from Pfizer or Moderna, so they will not be affected by the decision of the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities to temporarily suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in those under 60 years old.
Workers from the National Center for Biotechnology and the Center for Biological Research Margarita Salas - both in Madrid - will be the first to be vaccinated, according to a CSIC spokesperson, to which these institutes belong. At the National Center for Biotechnology there are two of the laboratories that develop experimental vaccines against covid: the one led by Mariano Esteban and Juan García Arriaza and the one led by Luis Enjuanes and Isabel Sola . “The scientists who are working day by day with SARS-CoV-2 should have been vaccinated for months, but the Community of Madrid does not consider it a priority. Regrettable! Terrible management! We need to speed up the process ”, denounced García Arriaza on March 31. The researcher has been summoned to be vaccinated this Thursday afternoon, almost a month earlier than originally planned.
The staff of the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center, also in the capital, will begin to be vaccinated from next Monday. Virologist Antonio Alcamí , one of the scientists who started the revolt due to the lack of vaccination, works at this institute. "It seems that it has served a purpose," celebrates Alcamí, who at 60 has been working with coronavirus in a high-security laboratory and in contaminated areas of hospitals, without being vaccinated. According to this virologist, it was the CSIC Prevention Service that urged the Community of Madrid to advance the injections. The spokesman for the Ministry of Health affirms that it was a decision of the general direction of Public Health. Royal Decree 664/1997 requires that workers exposed to pathogens have access to the relevant vaccines.
Virologists Luis Enjuanes and Isabel Sola, at the National Center for Biotechnology, in Madrid, last June.Álvaro García
The Ministry of Health, The CSIC and the Community of Madrid have offered EL PAÍS contradictory versions about the lack of vaccination of scientists exposed to the coronavirus. The CSIC argued that the research staff does not appear as a priority group in the Vaccination Strategy against covid in Spain , approved by the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health defended that her body does recommend prioritizing the vaccination of professionals who work in "laboratories where samples that potentially contain viable viruses are handled." The Community of Madrid assured that the delay was due to a bureaucratic failure - incomplete lists - outside the Ministry of Health. The vaccination campaign in Spain began on December 27, 2020 with Araceli Hidalgo , 96, a resident of a nursing home in Guadalajara.
The 150 researchers from the CSIC in the Community of Madrid are not the only ones who have been working for months exposed to the coronavirus and without getting vaccinated. A CSIC spokesperson points out that there are at least 50 other workers in centers outside Madrid, such as the Institute of Biomedicine in Valencia and the Segura Center for Soil Science and Applied Biology, in Murcia. The researcher Pilar Marco , from the Institute of Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia, also denounced a week ago that she had lines of work stopped due to the lack of vaccination of her group. His laboratory develops rapid diagnostic tests, essential to combat the pandemic. Marco explains that they remain unspoken.
Three workers at the Carlos III Health Institute - the main public body for biomedical research in Spain - criticize anonymously that there are also unvaccinated people in their centers who have to manipulate patient samples. An employee of the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) - a foundation belonging to the Institute - estimates that a hundred people work at its headquarters, in Madrid, with samples from hospitals, without having been vaccinated.
A spokesperson for the Carlos Health Institute III explains that its members, in general, are included in group 3 of the Vaccination Strategy, as they are not in direct contact with COVID patients, so they will be vaccinated after groups 1 and 2, made up of people at high risk . "However, workers who are working directly with samples with a high viral load of covid, as well as those in occupational health, have already been vaccinated after contacting the Community of Madrid," says the spokesperson. The agency expects to vaccinate all the remaining staff, some 900 workers, in May. A CNIO spokeswoman emphasizes that, in addition to personnel in contact with human samples, the center carries out training and teaching work. "We have asked the Community of Madrid that CNIO researchers be included as a priority vaccination group," the spokesperson details.