Society 04/08/2021

Fifth wave hospital admissions to peak "soon"

Health Dpt trusts worst forecasts for ICUs, which now have 581 patients, will be avoided

4 min
A young man vaccinating himself this Wednesday in pavilion 4 of the Barcelona Fair.

BarcelonaThe fifth wave hast lost strength in Catalonia but the drip in contagions has not stopped and hospitals are still full. The epidemiological trend is evolving in the right direction, according to the Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, who has described as "good news" the reduction in new infections in all age groups. It also seems that hospital beds are emptying of covid patients: since Wednesday about eighty patients have been discharged from conventional wards (there are still 2,148 covid patients) and eight from intensive care (there are now 581). Cabezas is confident that the curve will soon "bend" and remove tension from the health system. Although nothing is definitive, right now the most pessimistic forecasts by Catalan Health minister Josep Maria Argimon, who predicted that the first week of August occupation in intensive care units would jump up to 700 patients, have not been fulfilled.

However, in the last 24 hours the Department has reported 28 more deaths. In total, the pandemic has caused 22,760 deaths and the fifth wave has already caused five hundred. Of these, 73 were elderly and dependent people living in care homes. "There are days when we have no deaths and others when we have an increase of 28 in a day, like this Wednesday. If we were not vaccinating, however, we would have more than 200 deaths a day", stressed the secretary. In fact, taking as a reference the studies of the research group in Computational Biology and Complex Systems at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Biocom-SC), the Health Department calculates that vaccination is avoiding 64,450 cases, 136,064 days of hospitalisation (there would be 6,000 hospitalisations and not 2,000) and 27,315 days in intensive care units, where about 600 people are being treated. Without vaccination, the research group believes it would be more than 1,300.

The curve in infections reached its peak in the second week of July, with 51,270 infections in just seven days, but cumulative incidence is still very high. Catalonia diagnosed 831 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants (325 last week). Even so, it must be borne in mind that the data is biased, because the Health Department has stopped testing close contacts due to the impossibility of tracing transmission chains. Cabezas has explained that primary care has had to assume 9 times more work than in other waves because of the rise in suspected cases and symptoms in the last month and a half and that the brake on new infections is allowing epidemiological surveillance services, which make 6,000 calls per day on average, to begin to monitor some of the people who are isolating.

Vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds

Cabezas has reported that this Wednesday morning there were still 83,689 appointments available for vaccination, 59,000 of them for first doses. "If you are not yet vaccinated, this is the best time to make an appointment," she encouraged. In fact, the head of Public Health has admitted that this surplus of vaccines has forced an acceleration in the vaccination campaign for children between 12 and 15 years of age. On the one hand, it aims to vaccinate as many teenagers as possible before the school year starts; and on the other, it hopes to make the most of the availability of slots and doses. "We started to have free appointments and we do not want to have them, we want all the doses to be administered so they can protect as it has been proved they do," she defended.

This Wednesday, the first Catalan teenagers aged 12 to 15 arrived at the mass vaccination point at Fira de Barcelona to receive the first dose. The coordinator of the space, Lourdes Carrés, has urged families to make appointments because "it is very important to move forward in the vaccination and reach the beginning of the year with as many youngsters vaccinated as possible, to protect them and their families". She encouraged them to do so "wherever they can", given that many families are outside their municipality

Brothers Guillem and Adrià Martinez getting vaccinated this Wednesday in pavilion 4 of the Fira de Barcelona.

The images have been repeated in the rest of vaccination points where the drug is already being inoculated throughout Catalonia. As in Manresa, where Isaac Vilajosana, 13, has been vaccinated accompanied by his father, a prerequisite in the case of teenagers under the age of 15. In statements to ACN, the young man says he now feels more "calm": "If they ask you if you want to get vaccinated you have to say yes, at least I can't think of any reason to say no".

Tàrrega has been another of the municipalities where vaccination of teenagers started this Wednesday. Laia Hernanz, 12, was one of them. "I was looking forward to it. I'm glad I've been able to get it out of my system," she said. Her mother, Anna Atero, explains that the girl was the only one in the family who had not yet been vaccinated. Sergi Torres, 14 years old, was also vaccinated in Tàrrega. He didn't think twice: "I caught covid-19 and I didn't catch it again", he explained.

Catalonia expects to receive around 407,810 vaccine doses from different manufacturers: 272,610 of Pfizer, 89,700 of Moderna and 45,500 of Janssen. At the moment, 58% of the population has received the full guideline and, although 2% of those who have received the first dose have not turned up for the second, Cabezas is optimistic and believes it has more to do with the holidays. "We are lucky to live in a country with vaccines, it is a privilege to have them for free, close to home and administered by health professionals of great value," said Cabezas, who regretted that of the 27% of the population who has received a vaccine in the world, only 1.1% were in low-income countries.