Official Covid statistics indicate that Spain’s sixth coronavirus wave is starting to slow down.
Spain is beginning to see the first indication that the sixth wave is slowing down, after figures showed a cumulative incidence growth rate of 90% over the Christmas period, with numbers dropping to 17% on Friday.
Just last week new Covid records were set, with 179,125 official infections reported in a single day. If infections continue to increase, although maybe at a slower pace, this number could elevate, but the cumulative incidence rate is no longer rising so steeply.
The latest data from Spain’s central Health Ministry, which was released on Friday, shows that the 14-day cumulative incidence rate is currently 3,196 cases per 100,000 residents. This is a rise of 36 points from the figures for Thursday and the gradual rise suggests that a peak of cases may be fast approaching.
Be that as it may, this movement is based on incomplete data, as many people are using home antigen tests to confirm their infection status and there are also notification delays to consider. For that reason, the Health Ministry data really only shows a small part of reality.
It is still clear to see, however, that the official count is slowing down.
The 14-day incidence rate over the Christmas and New Year period grew by more than 90% on a weekly basis, compared to Friday, January 14, where that figure was a low 17%.
The 29 point increase that was seen on Thursday and the 36 point increase on Friday is a contradiction to the spikes that were seen from Wednesday, December 22, where figures were in excess of 100 points, with a maximum of 267 points in a single day on December 29.
It is questioned as to whether these figures give a true perspective on Covid in Spain, as more than a week can pass between symptoms showing and a Covid test proving positive, if one is even taken. Also with many people now using antigen tests at home, many positive cases are not being included in the official statistics.
Furthermore, at present, there is no clear information as to what to do with these results.
Regions such as Aragón, Catalonia, Galicia and Navarre report home testing kits to the Health Ministry, however, Andalusia, Castilla y León, Madrid, Murcia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, require confirmation from an additional test. The Basque Country was reporting home test results but stopped doing so last week.
According to Salvador Peiró, an epidemiologist and head of research at the Fisabio research foundation in Valencia “It’s very difficult to know what part of the (still questionable) reduction in cases is a possible real fall in transmission and which part is a fall in detection.
“I suspect that in some places like Navarre, which carries out a lot of tests and is showing spectacular levels of transmission if notified cases fall it is due to a fall in transmission (they must have ever fewer people susceptible, either due to having had an infection or due to the third dose). In other places, the component of reducing testing is likely more important.”
In fact, Navarre has begun to show a clear fall in its 14-day cumulative incidence, 659 points. If this measure continues, it would seem that the sixth wave has peaked in a region that was actually ahead of others in terms of infections.
In other regions Aragon reports 3,332 new infections without deaths, Catalonia 45 deaths in one day with 22,081 new infections, up 60% on the week before, Galicia is of the highest concern with 8,615 new cases, bringing active cases to 69,717, whilst Murcia, another high area reported 3,707 new infections and the Balearic Islands recorded 2,358 new cases and three deaths.
Many experts predicted that the Coronavirus would slow down before reaching its peak in the middle of this month.
The majority of waves in Spain have so far shown very clear rise and falls, but this isn’t always the case. This has also been seen in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, who are seeing cases rise after a fall that was registered at the beginning of this year.
This also happened in South Africa, which was the first country to see Omicron spread. This prompted a sharp spike and then an equally fast fall. The Spanish health authorities are expecting the same thing to happen in Spain once the peak is reached.
The big difference with fighting the virus now is the outstanding number of vaccinations administered, with more than 90% of the Spanish population aged 12 and over now being fully protected. This is playing a major role in preventing Spanish hospitals from becoming completely overwhelmed.
According to the ministry report, currently, 2,224 Intensive care unit (ICUs) beds in Spain are occupied by Covid-19 patients.
ICU doctor Isabel Jiménez, from the Hospital Universitario in Navarre, adds that the high number of patients is being compounded by staff off sick with Covid-19. “In general we are very tired,” she explains. “Very tired of the situation because this has been going on for two years and this is getting very tough on a professional level, and there are a lot of staff who are sick. It’s a very difficult situation all over again.”
No one can cover these ICU staff. “We stand in for each other, because there’s no other option,” she explained. “The problem with ICUs is that we are specialists in a minority.”
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa