The third wave of the coronavirus is already beginning to be a reality across Spain. The end of the Christmas holidays draws an ascending situation of infections in the whole of the Spanish territory. Although Monday is a day when there are no big surprises due to the weekend effect, the data released by the Spanish Ministry of Health seem to indicate complicated weeks lie ahead, as epidemiologists warned relaxation during the holidays would bring. "We have spent better holidays than we should have and now we are seeing the consequences," Fernando Simón, director of the Coordination Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), said at a press conference.
The first consequence is that the cumulative incidence of infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days has shot up in the last three days, one of the most reliable indicators, together with hospital admissions, for assessing the progress of the pandemic. If last Friday it was 350.48 cases, it has now increased 85 points to 435.62 cases. We have to go back to the beginning of November, in the middle of the second wave, to find similar figures; just after the December 8 Bank holiday, cumulative incidence was below 200. The situation is also worse in terms of deaths: since Friday, 401 deaths have been recorded by the Health Ministry. It has been a month since the last time such a figure was reached. However, as far as the weekly count is concerned, the average remains for the moment stable at around 575 deaths.
The worst weekend
This is the worst weekend for infections since the beginning of the pandemic with 61,422 new cases. There have been days with higher figures, but never after a weekend, when less positive cases are usually reported. As for cumulative incidence, the case of Extremadura stands out above all, with over 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days. The Balearic Islands, which has banned social gatherings in Mallorca and Ibiza, is the second most affected community with 598 cases, closely followed by Madrid, which has also shot up to 595 cases. However, the pressure on ICUs and hospitals, according to the Ministry of Health, is lower in the Spanish capital than in places like Catalonia. It should be noted that the expanded places are taken into account - taking out the post-operative space, for example. In the whole of Spain, coronavirus patients take up 26% of ICU beds and 13% of beds in regular wards.
Simón rules out home confinement
Despite this scenario, Simon has been moderately optimistic and has hoped that, after the relaxation of the Christmas holidays, people will now take more action and we will soon see the peak of this third wave. He has ruled out, in fact, home confinement because "we are not in a situation similar to the first wave, but much better, and it is more like the second wave in September". "The current situation, if the rules are applied, can be put under control perfectly without home confinement," he said, and recalled that during the second wave it was not necessary to confine in order not to affect "the economy and society" any more. In fact, he has placed the end of February and the beginning of March as the time when the effects of the vaccine will start to be felt in the state count.
Half of the doses administered
The speed of vaccination of Pfizer doses is starting to increase, but Spain has only used just over half of the doses that have arrived (54%). By far, the slowest region is Madrid, which has only administered 25.2% of the total number of doses it received. Simón does not believe that this delay in vaccination in Madrid is only due to the effects of storm Filomena. In fact, the Madrid government claims that it has resumed vaccination in care homes -which it has outsourced to the Red Cross-. The Balearic Islands are second slowest, hacing only used 36.2% of the vaccines received. Catalonia is slightly above average with 56.7%.
As for the British variant, Simon denies that the faster spread of the virus is due to its arrival in Spain. Up until Friday, 70 cases had been identified and confirmed, ten more than the day before, but there are still 72 cases under study. The Ministry of Health assumes that it will end up detecting "hundreds of these cases" "The problem is not the British variant but our behaviour," said the epidemiologist. In other words, the fact that the rules are not being followed and more contagion is caused.