Pedro Sánchez has recognized this Sunday the “certain and real risk to health” of the rise in covid infections at the gates of the Christmas holidays, although he has insisted that the seriousness of the sixth wave, with more than 90% of older Spaniards vaccinated and 70% of the population over 60 years of age with the booster dose, has nothing to do with the previous ones, much more lethal. Since Friday, Spain has been at the highest level of risk of transmission with 511 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, an incidence lower than that of other European countries but that according to the president “we cannot take it for granted” and that “demands that intensify” the response of the Administration to the spread of the virus. For this reason, and in order to “evaluate new measures that can be implemented over the coming weeks”, Sánchez has convened this Wednesday afternoon and on an extraordinary basis the 19th conference of presidents since the beginning of the pandemic -the 25th since its inception in 2004- to discuss with the regional presidents the situation that is causing the expansion of the omicron variant. The summit will be telematic and Sánchez will preside over it from the Senate, just two days before Christmas Eve.
The president wanted to convey a message of “calm and confidence” in the institutional statement of more than six minutes -that is, without the possibility of asking questions- that he made at the Government Delegation in Catalonia. Sánchez has reiterated throughout his speech that the coverage of the vaccination strategy places Spain in a much better situation than that of other countries within the EU. The Netherlands has just imposed a strict lockdown until January 14 with the closure of hospitality, culture, schools, universities, non-essential shops and amateur sports. “It is true that this new wave of virus expansion has very different characteristics and affects us in very different circumstances. It is worth noting that with notably higher numbers of infections, today we have hospitalization occupancy and ICU occupancy figures that are lower than we had a year ago. The first conclusion is that vaccination works and that this health crisis can only be tackled in the light of science. A year ago not a single vaccine had been administered in our country and now it reaches 90%”, Sánchez stressed before attending, also in Barcelona, the extraordinary congress of the PSC in which Salvador Illa relieves Miquel Iceta as first secretary . The President of the Government has taken advantage of his speech in the conclave of the Catalan Socialists to ask the opposition to “give the country a hand in the fight against the pandemic”. Sánchez has been especially critical of the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, from whom he has demanded “a minimum of education in his demonstrations”, reports Cristian Segura. He has also recalled the words of Casado last January in which he predicted that the mismanagement of the Government would make Spain reach 70% of vaccinated in no less than four years. That percentage was achieved in early September.
The proliferation of cases coincides with the expansion of the omicron variant, much more transmissible than the delta variant, which according to scientific forecasts will cease to be the hegemonic variant in a few weeks. Experts estimate that omicron causes milder symptoms, but since it is much more contagious, it can overwhelm the health system. “The virus is still among us and combating it must be a priority for all public administrations,” Sánchez emphasized. “We have walked the most painful part of the road together and together we are going to complete this journey protecting the lives and health of our compatriots”, he concluded, again conveying the idea that the current situation is very different.
Admissions for covid in Spain have almost tripled in a month, with 6,667 hospitalized patients, although at the moment they are equivalent to 5.3% of the occupancy of beds on the floor. The 1,306 admitted to the ICU represent an occupation of 14% of the places. Several regional executives consulted affirm that there are now fewer beds reserved for patients with coronavirus than in previous waves, but they could be enabled if necessary. The data, meanwhile, is far from the rawest moments left by the pandemic. For example, last year at this point the incidence was 207 cases, much lower than the current one, but there were 11,336 patients admitted -then it meant an occupation of 9.2% of beds-, of which 1,955 remained in intensive care ( 20.4%). The reason is that the vaccination process had not yet begun. At the end of last January, when the third wave reached its peak with an incidence of 900 cases, those hospitalized had skyrocketed to 30,789, of which 4,515 were in ICUs due to their severity.
According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, as of this Friday, 38.6 million Spaniards had been immunized with the full schedule (91.7%). The start of vaccination last Wednesday for children between 5 and 11 years of age, the age group with the highest incidence (705 cases) – the following is the range of 40 to 49 years (621.5), which usually coincides with the age parents-, should help contain the spread of cases: Sánchez has indicated that 5% of these minors have already received it. In addition, to date more than 10 million booster doses have been administered to the most vulnerable population. 82.5% of those over 70 have already received it, a percentage that falls to 53.4% in the 60 to 69 age bracket. The second dose for those vaccinated by Janssen has only been received by 51.5% of those immunized with this vaccine.
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