We have lacked the capacity or ability to avoid the fourth wave

2 min
A nurse attending a patient in the ICU of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.
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The fourth wave is already here. It was to be expected as soon as it was known that the British variant was already dominant in Catalonia and in most of Europe. Until now it seemed that we had been spared its virulence - more contagions, faster and in some cases more serious - but it was a mirage. Hospitals and frontline health workers are now preparing for a tough few weeks in which a considerable rise in the number of infections and hospital admissions is expected. These figures are not yet seen in the current indicators, which seem much better than weeks ago but are lagging behind a reality in which specialists already detect the meteoric rise, at first-wave levels, which the new variantis causing. In fact, we are facing this fourth wave with full ICUs after a 19% increase in just ten days, and with a high number of ward beds occupied by covid cases.

All this is happening at a time when the age groups with the highest risk of hospitalisation are still not vaccinated. People between 55 and 70 years of age are the most commonly admitted to ICUs, but only now have they begun to be vaccinated, and the shortage of doses and European political overacting and disorientation in relation to the AstraZeneca vaccine are hindering the process.

It is frustrating that we find ourselves in this situation again, because it repeats the story we experienced in summer and at Christmas. The more social interaction, the more infections; the more infections, the higher hospital pressure, which in the end can only be controlled by further restrictions. These new measures aggravate the economic crisis that the easing of restrictions was seeking to alleviate, which has made it easier to have more social interaction. Contrary to what half of Europe had done, the regional confinement was put in place just before Easter, largely to give air to the tourist and catering sector, and it seemed obvious even then that this would end in a new closure and a fourth wave. So far there has not been, it seems, enough courage to resist the pressures of these powerful sectors - which have real problems of survival and need more and more substantial aid in order to continue - but the operation to save "Easter" can put the summer season at risk - which is vital for the sector - as well as endanger many people's lives.

Pandemic fatigue, the false sensation that now we have vaccines we are already there - just look at Chile, where too rapid a de-escalation has caused the worst outbreaks of the whole pandemic despite having a large part of the population vaccinated - and part of the population relaxing are working against us. We need to be very responsible again and we need a general slowdown in social interaction to avoid harsher restrictions, so that this final stretch of the nightmare does not claim many more victims.