Covid-19: Spain excludes compulsory vaccination as coronavirus incidence jumps 17 points | Society

Spain’s health ministry reported 14,500 new coronavirus infections and added 42 Covid-19-related deaths to the total death toll on Thursday evening. In its latest pandemic report, the ministry also communicated a further increase in the cumulative incidence of infections over the previous 14 days. This data point, which has been steadily increasing for several weeks now, has climbed an additional 17 points to 234 cases per 100,000 population.

In terms of regions of the country, Navarre in northern Spain continues to lead the rankings, with a cumulative incidence of 676 cases per 100,000 population over the previous 14 days. Next comes the neighboring Basque Country, with 552, followed by Aragon, with 435. According to Thursday’s report, the incidence has increased in all territories except Castilla-La Mancha, and in all brackets. of age – especially in those under 12 who have not yet been vaccinated.

As for the pressure on Spanish hospitals, the ministry report detailed 4,093 patients currently being treated for Covid-19, 136 more than the day before. The increase is reflected in the figures for intensive care units (ICUs), where the occupancy rate rose three-tenths of a point in yesterday’s report to 8.4% of the total.

According to data provided by the Ministry of Health, unvaccinated people between the ages of 60 and 80 are 14 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those vaccinated, and 23 times more likely to end up in intensive care.

A total of 5,189,220 coronavirus infections have been officially recorded since the start of the pandemic, and 88,122 have died after contracting the virus.

Vaccination

The latest data from the Ministry of Health on the country’s vaccination campaign shows that 66% of those over 70 have so far received a booster of a Covid-19 vaccine, or nearly 4.5 million people. In addition, 79.3% of the entire Spanish population is now fully vaccinated, while 80.9% have received at least one injection. Since the start of the campaign at the end of December 2020, the regions of the country have administered 76,899,564 doses.

Speaking Thursday, the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, ruled out making vaccination against Covid-19 compulsory in Spain given the already very high vaccination coverage among the population and the availability of other effective tools for fight the virus.

“I understand why countries with low immunization coverage are planning it,” Darias said. “But in Spain we are one of the leading countries for vaccination in Europe and in the world, including inoculations with a third dose.” She added that other tools used in Spain include “mandatory masks indoors and outdoors when the safety distance cannot be maintained”.

Vaccines for children

Spain will receive 1.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for children in December, followed by another two million in January. This will be enough to give the first doses to almost all the country’s children aged 5 to 11 (numbering 3.3 million). The group, which is still unvaccinated, will likely be next on the shooting list in the ongoing campaign in Spain, according to Health Minister Carolina Darias.

Before the process can begin, however, a strategy will need to be approved. The European Medicines Agency has approved injections among this age group, but the expert council advising the government on the campaign has not yet given its position on the plan.

That said, the Minister of Health and regional health leaders assume the plan will be approved and vaccines can be administered from December 13, when the first doses arrive.

Omicron variant

The Catalonia region confirmed on Thursday that it had detected two cases of the recently identified omicron strain, which is believed to be more transmissible than the currently dominant delta variant. The patients had both recently returned from South Africa, where omicron was first detected. They have been isolated since Monday after testing positive for coronavirus upon arrival at Barcelona airport. So far in Spain, three cases of omicron have been identified in Madrid – two among new arrivals from South Africa and one unrelated to travel from southern Africa – and one in the Balearic Islands, also in a patient who arrived from the South. Africa.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned Thursday that preliminary data available suggests the omicron variant appears to have “significantly” greater transmission capacity than the delta. According to ECDC mathematical modeling, this suggests that “in a few months” the newly discovered strain could cause “more than half of the cases” of coronavirus across the continent.

Catalonia

The implementation in the north-eastern region of Catalonia of the so-called “Covid passport”, which will be necessary from today for people over 13 years old wishing to enter bars, restaurants, nursing homes. care, gyms and nightlife venues, Thursday caused long queues in front of vaccination sites. in Barcelona. At the Fira de Barcelona conference center, for example, there was a queue that meandered outside for about 500 meters. The day before, there were moments of tension when the nursing staff informed those on standby that there were not enough doses for everyone there.

“We are having difficulty managing demand at sites where you do not need an appointment,” CatSalut health director Gemma Craywinckel explained Thursday.

The regional government of Catalonia recommends that people make an appointment through the CatSalut website rather than showing up at mass vaccination sites. Last week, the region administered more than 30,000 initial doses compared to 11,000 in the first seven days of November.

The crowds observed at vaccination points pose logistical problems for the health service. Catalonia had to throw away more than 60,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine after the summer, as they had expired due to lower than expected demand.