Society 01/06/2021

Mortality from covid-19 drops 90% in five months

Vaccination is the main factor that has reduced deaths, according to experts

3 min
Number of people killed with covid -19 per month

GironaDeaths from coronavirus in Catalonia have fallen by 89% in five months, according to data from the Department of Health: while in January 2,159 people died with covid, in May it was 231 (with consolidated data up to the 27th). Vaccination has played a key role in achieving this drop, according to the head of epidemiology at Vall d'Hebron Hospital, Magda Campins, and Biocom researcher Clara Prats. "The over-70s were the group with most deaths; now, thanks to vaccination, almost none of them is admitted to hospital because if they catch covid, most of them are asymptomatic," says the doctor. And she adds: "The weather or restrictions affect all age groups in the same way, but the groups where there is a clearer decline is among the vaccinated."

When comparing the data of the two months, the incidence of the virus also needs to be taken into account: in January there were five times more cases (111,940) than in May (22,096). But if we analyse the percentage of deaths compared to the total number of cases, they were almost halved: in January 1.93% of those who caught the disease died, while in May it was 1.05%. Likewise, by age groups the decrease is clear: 70% of deaths in January were over 80 years, while this month they represented 43% of the total number of deaths. Precisely this population group, those over 80, are the most immunised: 91% have already received the full vaccination schedule.

Prats indicates that, to demonstrate the decrease in mortality is due to the effect of vaccination, it would be necessary analyse case by case. But she affirms that there are indirect clues that let us intuit the influence. "If you compare the curves by age it is very clear: you begin to see two different epidemics, one that affects the youngest and one for the oldest. And this is a consequence of vaccination, because the one that has fallen the most is the one for those who have been immunised". Thus, the head of epidemiology at Vall d'Hebron Hospital certifies that immunisation is the main factor that has reduced mortality: "Before, the over-70s not only died from covid, but also by the complications that the virus caused in conjunction with prior pathologies. Now, thanks to vaccination, they are no longer admitted and those who are taken to ICUs are younger and, therefore, their risk of dying is much lower"

Both Prats and Campins also point out that three weeks ago the state of alarm and many restrictions were lifted, but this has not led to an increase in cases, although the drop in incidence has slowed.

No deaths is a utopia

On 27 May, for the first time since 5 July, no deaths were recorded. However, it must be taken into account that, in the next few days, the figure could change, with some cases that may have not yet been recorded. Even so, forecasts indicate that, as progress is made in immunisation of the population, the number of cases, admissions and deaths will decrease. In any case, the two experts remind us that it will be difficult to reach 0 mortality rate, although it will be very close.

"It is wonderful that on the 27th there were zero deaths, but it will not completely eliminate the mortality rate. Now, however, what we will see will be a trickle of a very small number of cases, if new variants that bypass the protection of current vaccines do not appear," Prats predicts. Campins agrees: "When we have vaccinated the over-50s we will see that deaths fall even further. But we do not believe that we will reach 0 and we are seeing as much at care homes: it has fallen sharply, but not completely". Thus, if in January 641 residents were reported dead, this month it was 12 (-98%), despite the fact that 94% of users have received the full vaccination schedule.

As for the advancement of the virus in Catalonia, most indicators remain down -although the decline has slowed compared to previous weeks –. The only data that have risen this Monday are the number of people admitted (+25) and the reproduction rate: from 0.94 to 0.95. In total, since the beginning of the pandemic, 22,171 Catalans have died with covid.

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