The second Christmas of the pandemic comes with fewer restrictions than the previous one and with a “semi-normal” situation thanks to vaccination. The complete guideline reaches 90% of the population according to official data from the Ministry of Health, thanks to the three and a half million doses administered, and is beginning to be reinforced with a third to some age groups. It is the first anniversary of the start of the immunization process, which in the province began on December 27, 2020 with Salvador Brotons, 65, from Castalla, who received his first dose at his residence in San Vicente del Raspeig. This year of vaccination coincides with the second since the pandemic broke out in China: in this time, SARS-CoV-2 has killed more than 3,100 people in the province and more than 8,000 throughout the Community.
The skyrocketing increase in new positives and the predominance of the omicron variant in this sixth wave, much more contagious, has led to the return of the mask outdoors; the compulsory covid passport in hotels, cinemas, gyms and swimming pools; and seats limited to ten people per table in restaurants. This Thursday, Christmas Eve, with 1,679, was the day with the most new cases since the end of July, except on Mondays, usually with very high incidence rates since it accumulates data from weekends.
These limitations have nothing to do with those of Christmas 2020, when the first vaccines arrived. The Community spent the festivities closed perimeter (until May), with a curfew at 11 pm (on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at midnight), confinement of municipalities and limitation of family gatherings to six people. A year ago there were about 800 new positives a day and the deceased did not reach a thousand. Despite the restrictions, the incidence soared after Christmas, giving way to the third wave, the most serious since the pandemic began in the Community. Daily infections rose to 4,500 on January 25, with 1,851 admitted, 221 of them in ICU, and beds in skylights, cafeterias and even in hospital chapels, completely collapsed. 1,500 people died in just two months, half of all from the pandemic. Currently, there are 259 hospitalized covid patients, 62 of them in the ICU, and the key is in the vaccine. The arrival of Christmas has encouraged almost 25,000 people who were not immunized in mid-November, despite which the province is below Valencia (95.13%) and Castellón (97.94%). To highlight the vaccination in adolescents, which began in August, after the fifth young wave with massive infections among those under 30 years of age and restrictions on leisure.
Is there a risk of collapsing hospitals also around Christmas? This is what the head of vaccination programs at the General Directorate of Public Health, José Lluch, considers. “Exists
obviously if the number of infected people is high. In the Community we continue with a high level of healthcare pressure in Primary Care and in hospitals. We have to try to keep it from going higher, maintaining the recommendations regarding individual protection measures, regardless of vaccination. And encourage all people who have not yet been immunized to come to health centers and vaccination points.
The expert recalls that the collapse of the system not only affects those who become ill by contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection, but also the rest of the people who need health care. Therefore, the more population has been vaccinated, the less chance of serious infection, hence the Ministry of Health is trying to “improve resources” to vaccinate with a booster dose to age ranges such as 60 to 69 years, where the Community is below the Spanish average. “We are going to have permanent vaccination centers open while we have to carry out immunization activities for large groups. They are not exactly like the one that was opened in Ciudad de la Luz (vaccination course) but the necessary resources will be dedicated to speed up the vaccination as much as possible (with a third dose) of the groups approved by the National Public Health Commission. All these centers are up and running, the doses are being established, the teams are being formed and I hope that in the next few days we will see a very rapid increase in vaccination among these groups ». That is, among those over 60; those who received one dose of Janssen, those who received two of Astrazeneca, and other approved groups.
This expert considers that the expansion of the environments where the covid vaccination certificate or passport must be presented will help to contain the spread of the virus, also aware of the difficulty of applying restrictive measures that allow a certain normality to be reconciled with the health situation, “although all those that have been implemented in previous waves and that have demonstrated effectiveness are there ”. Despite the arrival of omicron,
the head of vaccination programs at the General Directorate of Public Health believes that we are closer to overcoming the pandemic, “thanks to vaccines that have shown effectiveness and the resources devoted to research,” despite which he finds a handicap in the disparity in vaccination coverage worldwide and within Europe itself, with countries with very low levels of vaccination. “In a global world in which any of us can get a ticket at an acceptable price to travel to the other side of the world, it makes it difficult for us to control the pandemic because transmission is maintained,” he concluded.
In January and February, in the worst wave in the Community A year ago, the region was closed perimeter, with a curfew, confined municipalities and meetings limited to a maximum of six people.
A year ago there were 518, and last January 25 1,851 The healthcare pressure is now lower but the health workers fear that it will rise a lot again after the holidays.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.