Vaccinations slowing spread of COVID-19 cases in Spain - minister

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People sit after they received a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine as the country extends vaccination to curb surge among population under 30, in Madrid, Spain, July 12, 2021. REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

MADRID, July 23 (Reuters) - Spain's vaccine rollout has begun to slow the spread of COVID-19 infections and the country is getting ready for a booster third dose, Health Minister Carolina Darias said on Friday.

"We are starting to see a slowdown of the rise (in cases)," Darias said in an interview with radio station Onda Cero.

Spain had registered a major growth in the number of diagnosed cases per 100,000 people over the past few weeks. The number jumped five-fold between mid-June and mid-July.

The vaccination rollout has gathered speed and Spain now has the third-highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the world, with 64% of its population having had one or two doses, setting it behind only Canada and the United Kingdom.

Darias reaffirmed that the target was for 70% of the population to be vaccinated by late August. "We'll need to keep vaccinating until we reach 100% or be close to it," she said.

A third dose will then be offered to Spaniards, she said. "What we still have to determine is when."

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Cristina Galan; editing by Mark Heinrich and Ingrid Melander

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