Misc 07/01/2021

"Insufficient" restrictions that could lead to new lockdowns

Epidemiologists warn that high numbers of infections make vaccination difficult

Laia Vicens
4 min
Inici de la campanya de vacunació el dia 27 a la Residència Gent Gran Creu de Palau.

BarcelonaLocal lockdown and trade restrictions, which will take effect today, will be only the first measures of the year. The experts consulted by the ARA consider that these are lax restrictions and that they are also late, and that the worst is yet to come: the surge in hospital admissions due to contagion during the Christmas holidays. We asked them the following questions:

Are the restrictions enough?

Will we end up applying a new total lockdown?

How does the current expansive context influence the vaccination campaign?

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Sílvia de Sanjosé, epidemiologist and president of GCMSC

Sílvia de Sanjosé, epidemiologist and president of GCMSC"Vaccination is the only hope we have"

They have taken measures and this is what counts, because the circulation of the virus is increasing greatly and any restrictions on mobility are welcome. Whether these measures are sufficient or not will need to be monitored over time.

It will depend on whether we are able to stop the transmission. The Government has been magnanimous about these restrictions and we are likely to pay dearly for this.

When there are so many people infected, we may be vaccinating people who are already infected or who will become infected before the vaccine takes effect, and this will reduce its impact. Now, this doesn't mean that the government has to wait to vaccinate: it's good that the strategy is to administer as many vaccines as possible, because that's the only hope we have. And if between the first and second dose there are mobility restrictions, so much the better, because perhaps vaccination will have an impact faster.

Àlex Arenas, physicist and researcher at Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Àlex Arenas, physicist and researcher at Universitat Rovira i Virgili"We'll have to step on the brake of total confinement"

Given the seriousness of the data, the measures are insufficient and it is incomprehensible that they have only been put in place today. The situation has long been critical: the indicators are skyrocketing, infections are increasing, and so is positivity, which means that we are finding few cases. This leaves us in a very risky situation because we are not starting from scratch, but we have already come from a difficult situation in hospitals and the health system could collapse. The measures have fallen short, but the problem is that we already warned that restrictions should be different, that the December bank holiday was very dangerous and the same goes for Christmas. We are hindered by bad management which is very damaging to us. We are always behind.

We are so late that we will have to step on the brake of total lockdown. We have very little room in ICUs and the curve is growing too much. We have not reduced socialisation for Christmas, and this will take a very expensive toll.

It has a negative influence on the vaccination campaign: for it to be successful, it needs a low incidence of the virus. The current situation is the one that would never be wanted in a vaccination scenario, and that is why it is so urgent that it is accelerated to the maximum, 24 hours a day, with shifts, open to everyone. The more we run, the sooner we will get ahead, but it does not seem that the campaign has been very well prepared.

Daniel Lopez Codina, researcher with the computer biology research group at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

Daniel Lopez Codina, researcher with the computer biology research group at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya"Total lockdown is not immediate but there is the threat."

If we look only at the epidemiological dynamics, these are clearly insufficient measures. But on the other side of the scale are the social and economic effects, which are very tough. Finding the balance is very difficult and we have to have respect for the restrictions, even though they should have been applied earlier. We saved the economy over Christmas, but now it will be very expensive.

Total confinement is not immediate, but the threat is clear. In the next few days the situation will continue to get worse because we will see the effects of the holidays, and in a fortnight we will have to see whether we have stopped the curve. And if we do not manage to get it under control, there will be no other option than to do what they have in London. The sooner we do it the better, because otherwise our hospital system will not be able to cope.

We must continue to vaccinate in the best way and at the highest possible rate. If we wait for the incidence of the virus to fall, we will not vaccinate until autumn.

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