Months of "surgical" measures ahead, warns Spanish Health minister

The minister claims vaccines will be available in Spain by the new year - possibly even by December

Difficult months lie ahead, but there is hope on the horizon: the arrival of doses of covid-19 vaccines. This is the diagnosis put forward by Spanish Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, who in an interview with RAC1 warned that "surgical" measures adapted to each region's needs, such as the Catalan government's closure of bars and restaurants, will continue in the coming weeks and months until an effective treatment is found to combat the virus. Illa has not ruled out that the first doses of the vaccine may arrive in December, as a Christmas present, and has assumed that if they are not ready by the end of the year, they certainly will be between the months of January and February: "A very powerful effort is being made," he said.

The minister explained that there will be different types of vaccine and that with time they will become more effective. He detailed that three contracts have been signed, one of which will provide 30 million doses in December - three of which for Spain - if the vaccine is considered safe. He has made it clear that safety will not be put aside in the rush for a vaccine. He has also been critical of anti-vaxxers: "They are not right and they harm society".

On the distribution of the vaccine, he has detailed that it will be done in an equitable manner among the Spanish regions. A registry of those having received the covid-19 vaccine will be created, which will be ready in December. He also said that the first to be vaccinated will be those considered at risk and people who share a living space. He has warned, however, that we are facing a few months of restrictions and living with covid-19, which can create "many complications". That is why he has already warned that Christmas this year will not be a normal Christmas and that the measures will have to stay in place.

A second, different wave

The minister has argued that the second wave is not the same as the first. The mortality is now much lower and more cases are being detected: "In the first wave we detected 10% of the cases; we think we are now detecting between 60% and 80%, and those infected are younger". Illa has supported the tough measures approved by the Catalan government.

As for schools, he considered the appropriate steps had been taken. The minister said that 1.5% of classes in Spain are isolating. "What we predicted has happened. We have done things reasonably well, the school is not a hotspot for contagion but it does reflect the cases of the area," he explained. What the minister does not yet foresee is allowing the public to enter football stadiums: "It is dispensable," he has made clear.

Risk of major outbreak decreases

After a few days on the rise, the risk of a major covid-19 outbreak in Catalonia has fallen 11 points, although it is still at very high levels (367.28). This has been reported by the Catalan Health department, which today recorded 2,716 new cases of PCR-confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 167,455. There have also been 15 new reported deaths in Catalonia, with a total of 13,577. In addition, the number of hospitalizations continues to rise: there are 39 new admissions, with the total standing at 1,101, of whom 191 are in intensive care, three more than yesterday.

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