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Vaccination is beginning of end of pandemic, says Spanish health minister

(Xinhua)    10:17, December 30, 2020

MADRID, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Spain along with the rest of the European Union on Sunday started a vaccination drive against COVID-19, which Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa called the "beginning of the end" of the coronavirus pandemic in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"We are at the beginning of the end: the beginning is the vaccine and the end is to immunize all citizens," said Illa, who nevertheless insisted that the start of the vaccination program should not let residents become too relaxed as Spain on Monday surpassed 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

"Now more than ever we have to continue to comply with the rules. There are months ahead that will not be easy because the virus is still there. So, we can't let our guard down," he told Xinhua.

"This a long-distance race," he said. "With each dose, with each vaccination day, we will increase immunity and, if all goes well, in six or seven months there will be a significant percentage of the Spanish and European population vaccinated."

Meanwhile, "the definitive end of the pandemic" would only come "when we have immunized a high percentage of the world's population, and this will take us the entire year 2021 and probably 2022."

The country, he said, has worked "so that the transport, distribution and storage chain is adequate and in accordance with the instructions established by the manufacturer."

Illa also discussed the efforts China has made to contain the spread of the coronavirus, saying Spain would "learn from what has been done."

"Health reinforcement and research will be essential in a common future for all," he added.

He also expressed his approval over the "solidarity" shown between "the governments and peoples of China and Spain," as Spain had sent medical equipment to China at the start of the outbreak before China became the main supplier for Spain when the pandemic hit Europe.

"Respect, trust, friendship, sincerity and assistance between the two nations have always been the guiding principles of bilateral diplomatic relations," he said.

"I am convinced that the fraternity between China and Spain will end up being strengthened after this joint fight against COVID-19," said the minister, who believes international cooperation has been key in the past few difficult months.

"No country has been spared," he said, adding that "the international community has faced a great challenge." Yet, "the joint efforts of all have led to finding a remedy."

"This should teach us that from now on we must go together, because only in this way will we be able to pass future tests that we may be subjected to," Illa added.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Bianji)

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