Covid to revive in October with outbreaks or a milder surge
Health Dpt urges young people to get vaccinated because immunisation has already prevented 9,500 deaths in Catalonia
BarcelonaWith 70% of the population vaccinated against covid with the full schedule, Catalonia faces the challenge of increasing the percentage of those immunised, especially in the younger age groups, to try to keep the pandemic under control. After the experience of the previous waves, the forecasts point that at the end of September or at the beginning of October the virus will revive. Biocomsc researcher at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Clara Prats, says that the two most likely scenarios in October are local outbreaks or a milder surge. Therefore, she warns the protection would be "greater" with 80% of the population having been vaccinated. Immunisation has prevented up to 9,500 deaths in Catalonia and the peak in ICUs of the fifth wave exceeded the first, according to Prats.
Since 1 January, because of the vaccines, it is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 Catalans have not been infected, and between 31,000 and 38,000 hospital admissions have been avoided, of which between 4,700 and 5,700 are in ICUs. Prats explains that this summer - in late July and early August - 2,000 hospital admissions were exceeded in Catalan hospitals but that, without the vaccines, this number would have reached 8,000. As for ICUs, in this last wave, there were close to 600 patients with covid, although the researcher states that, without the vaccines, this would have risen to 2,000. This peak would have been above that of the first wave, in April last year, because then Catalan ICUs reached 1,500 patients with covid. Vaccines have also avoided between 6,900 and 9,500 deaths.
Today, 70.5% of Catalans have the full guideline, according to the latest balance by the Department of Health. By age groups, all age groups over 40 exceed 80% vaccinated -from 70 onwards this number stands at above 90%. Under it, percentages do not reach 70%. Prats warns that if the percentage of young people vaccinated stagnates at 70% or, on the other hand, approaches 80%, the scenarios are "different", because with a high coverage of the immunised population, protection would be improved for the weeks to come. The researcher says that the current trend of covid in Catalonia, which is going down, "will slow down" at the end of this month, when the transmission rate is expected to increase but without reaching, says Prats, the level of this summer.
"Difficult to increase"
The Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, admits that they are studying "making it as easy as possible" to vaccinate the less vaccinated age groups, because from the age of 50 onwards "it will be difficult to increase" immunisation. "We always want maximum coverage at all ages", says the doctor, who adds that the Government's commitment to encouraging young people to get vaccinated is based on the campaign they are carrying out with people who can be role models for this population, such as sportsmen and women. Cabezas acknowledges that the rate of the vaccination points that have been set up at universities "is not very high", although she attributes this to the fact that many students are already immunised. For this reason, she maintains that "surgical strategies" of vaccination will be carried out in places where the percentage is lower.
Cabezas, as advanced by the Catalan Health Minister, Josep Maria Argimon, maintains that the covid mass vaccination points in Catalonia will be reconsidered in the coming days. It is expected that the campaign will continue in mobile vaccination teams and primary healthcare centres.