Spain is going to stop using the Covid infection rate to assess the severity of the pandemic.
On Tuesday Spain’s Ministry of Health made the announcement, stating that it intends to stop using the infection rate, as well as other numerical indicators. This move is being made so that they can determine if the country’s epidemiological situation is actually improving or getting worse.
This means that they will no longer use the ‘number of positive cases in 100,000 people over the last 7 or 14 days as a way of evaluating how the virus is developing across the whole country.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Health Minister Carolina Darias said that at this stage of the pandemic, her department believes that this data is now not as conclusive.
“As we gain more tools and knowledge, we see that an increase in cases does not necessarily have a proportional impact on the pandemic,” Darias declared.
This statement comes just a month after Fernando Simón, the director of the CCAES, defended the accumulated incidence as a valid indicator. This is despite the fact that there was already a certain insufficiency between the connection of infections and seriously ill patients.
Known in Spain as ‘la incidencia acumulada’, the infection rate has been based on the four risk categories set by the Health Ministry - low (25-50 cases per 100,000 people), medium (50-150 cases per 100,000 people), high (150-250 cases per 100,000 people) and extreme (more than 250 cases per 100,000 people).
It was also the principal way that the Spanish authorities let the public know where the coronavirus was spreading across its 50 provinces. This has then been used by individual regions to establish whether lighter or more restricted measures should be put in place.
As well as removing this method for evaluating the virus, the health authorities also want to put an end to using the positivity rate of PCR tests as a means of judging the spread of the Covid virus.
Instead, Spain will choose to observe the rate of vaccinations, the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations and ICU admissions, the number of fatalities and the presence of any new variants, as a means of gauging the impact of the virus.
Darias concluded that “They will be able to give us a much more accurate picture of the epidemiological reality.”
The health authorities won’t completely stop reporting the infection rate, but as the Health Minister stipulated, it will be judged “separately, by age group” instead of a general rate among every 100,000 people.
As Spain changes the way it will report its epidemiological position, it has also seen itself leave the ‘extreme risk’ category after new figures show that there are fewer than 250 cases per 100,000 people.
The country has also seen its first immunity target reached, that being the fact that 70 per cent of its population has now been fully vaccinated. However, this is being re-evaluated as it is now thought that the target needed is more likely to be 85 per cent given the recent emergence of more transmissible variants.
It comes as the country reported another 194 fatalities on Tuesday bringing the total to 84,340 since the start of the pandemic.
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa / Fernando Calvo
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