While the European Union has been flexing its buying power and lining up vaccine deals at discounted prices, the Spanish government has pressed ahead with its own plans.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Friday that the aim is to vaccinated what he called a substantial part of the population in the first half of 2021. He said a plan will be announced next Tuesday.

Spain hopes to obtain 20 million doses from Pfizer in early 2021, plus 31.6 million doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca, starting in December this year, provided the vaccine is approved and ready to ship.

Spain has the second-highest number of infections in Europe, after France, but the PM said that the infection rate has been falling in recent days thanks to regional health measures, including lockdowns.

The local authority in Madrid announced a travel ban in and out of the capital and its immediate region for 10 days from December 4. December 6 is a national holiday in Spain.

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year. Reuters