Why Spain Has Escaped The Fourth Wave That Is Baiting

Why Spain has escaped the fourth wave that is baiting half the planet

Although the reality of the pandemic incites optimism in the West, the health crisis is worryingly worsening in the rest of the world.

Figures dressed as Hindu gods in a campaign for the use of the mask in Bangalore, India.

On January 8, always according to the Worldometers portal, which has followed the evolution of the pandemic since the days of the Diamond Princess, 843,939 cases of coronavirus were reported worldwide. Twelve days later, we reached the peak of deaths, with 17,367.

By then, the United States, Europe and the Middle East had started their mass vaccination campaigns but everything was still in its infancy. Breaking that curve became a major challenge, as it also had to combat the famous “pandemic fatigue” It’s driving us all a little crazy.

Spain was no stranger to this third wave, perhaps caused by Christmas excesses or perhaps by a cyclical issue: on January 27, the highest figure of the entire pandemic was reached in the 14-day incidence, with 899.93 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and six autonomous communities above 1,200.

In other words, 1% of the total Spanish population, 423,303 people to be exact, had tested positive in a screening test over those two weeks. Everything we had saved in October and November, with a second wave softer than in Italy, France or practically all of Central Europe, came back to us and with a surcharge.

However, we get ahead. From that January 27 to March 15, the incidence fell to 127.80 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the best situation since August of the previous year. In the rest of the planet, the situation was very similar: already in February, the almost 850,000 daily cases were less than 400,000… and the deaths, which exceeded 17,000 in 24 hours, dropped to just over 8,000 at the beginning of March.

We believed at that time, perhaps in an excess of innocence and coinciding with the proliferation of vaccines of all kinds and nationalities in every corner of the world, that this was over. and it wasn’t true.

Graphs of positive cases and mortality from Covid-19.

Graphs of positive cases and mortality from Covid-19.

It is true that in Spain we have not done so badly. It is difficult to explain it, as we mentioned yesterday, to the intensivists from Madrid, Catalonia or the Basque Country who see how its already expanded ICU beds fill up again and are on the verge of collapse. It is hard but not impossible. Thanks to the vaccination of those over 80 years of age, the number of deaths has not exceeded 100 per day for some time, five times less than what we saw in the third wave, ten times less than what was recorded during the massacre of the spring 2020.

This Wednesday, the incidence was still below the extreme risk threshold and stood at 229.65. Yes, we have practically doubled the cases with respect to our base… but it has taken us five long weeks to do it. We are not talking, in any case, of exponential growth as has been understood throughout the pandemic.

What has happened in the rest of the world in the meantime? Bad news. Very bad, even. The fact that the countries around us and the western world in general have not suffered as much as on other occasions -I am talking about France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, the United States…- does not imply that this has been the case throughout the world and especially in that part of the world where vaccination is an almost unaffordable challenge.

The latest global data speak of 790,215 daily cases on average during the last week. It is very likely, as a matter of trend, that next week the January record will be reached and a new negative record will be beaten.

It is obvious that these figures are influenced by the greater capacity to carry out tests in the different countries, but they are still ridiculous amounts. On April 15, the number of deaths was close to 14,000, figures that fortunately have been going down this week. This could be an excellent sign if the trend is confirmed and would probably be related to that part of the world population that is vaccinated.

this same Tuesday, between India and Brazil alone they certified more than 5,000 deaths, something we had not seen until now. Up to fourteen countries exceeded 300 deaths reported in 24 hours and twenty-two were above 100. Up to thirty-nine countries have lost more than 0.1% of their total population in just thirteen months and due to a single disease.

Since the aforementioned March 15 in which the incidence began to rise in Spain, they have detected twenty-three million cases in the world, 16% of the total since the start of the pandemic (in Spain there were 250,000, 7.24%) and 375,000 people have died (12.23% of the total, for the 4,800 and 6.2% of our country).

As can be seen, the fourth wave is almost as devastating as the previous ones in global terms, but it is not so in our case, beyond the concern mentioned several times regarding critical patients. Why has this been so? Several reasons can be pointed out.

Vaccine doses administered per 100 people.

Vaccine doses administered per 100 people.
Our World in Data

From the outset, Holy Week was very different from Christmas. Not only because it is a holiday less given to family gatherings, but because they were prohibited more than a month in advance. There are always doubts as to whether the behavior of our fellow citizens is exemplary, but sometimes it seems that we take the debate to the extreme: in general, Spain has complied whenever it has been required.

Besides, there is the question of cycles. The countries that had a very harsh second wave have had a similar fourth wave. Those of us who suffer more in the third, are not noticing so much the hardness of this new regrowth.

How is it possible that certain countries, especially those in the developing world, fall again and again in each outbreak? Okay, population density doesn’t help. To this we must add purely bureaucratic issues that now mean that fewer cases escape than before and the difficulty of maintaining strict confinements without completely burdening an economy that is already very vulnerable.

The shortage of vaccines would be another factor to take into account. In the India, for example, has only given 6.21 doses per 100 inhabitants, well below the 26.49 in the European Union. and at a sidereal distance of 63.80 from the United States.

In summary, for the moment, everything suggests that Spain is going to go through this fourth wave a bit on tiptoe… which does not mean that, due to a cyclical issue, a hypothetical fifth wave cannot affect us back in June. Unfortunately, the situation is not the same in the rest of the world.

The coronavirus has already killed a minimum of three million people and is still as active as at the beginning, has only modified the geographical area in which it is focusing according to the moment. Impossible, under these conditions, to lower our guard or think of opening borders happily. The summer will probably be a respite, but by no means the end.