Some European countries have already entered their fourth wave, while others like Spain are waiting to know how the pandemic will evolve.

A gondolier without much work in pandemic in Italy.

It started small, as always. The first alarm signals came from the countries of central Europe: Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland… the same ones that had suffered the worst effects of the second wave of October-November last year on their meats.

Then it was Italy’s turn, but Italy thought it was protected; After all, we are talking about a country in which there was barely a third wave, only a post-Christmas rebound due to the rigor of the measures used. His system of dividing the country into zones (white, yellow, orange and red) seemed to work … until it stopped.

In the last week, more than half the country has already entered the red zone and the Mario Draghi government has confirmed the corresponding measures: closing of schools, shops, hotels … and home confinement except to go to work.

Italy wants to save Holy Week but in the same terms in which he saved Christmas, that is, he wants it to happen as soon as possible and that no indicator is triggered.

According to the latest ECDC data, the transalpine country has a 14-day cumulative incidence of 502.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It is to worry and it’s much more than a rebound.

Now, for the same thing that we have explained previously, it would not exactly be a fourth wave but a third for them. Three waves and a rebound. In fact, strictly speaking, the only country, as you can see in the following graph, that has eaten them all is the Czech Republic, one after another. The rest of us go at different rates.

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Europe.

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Europe.

Still, Italy could be an anomaly. After all, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France have been controlling their contagion curve well throughout the winter. Until, it seems, it has exploded on them.

The last week has been tough in all four countries, but especially in the last two. If we look at the case of France, the plan for the urgent transfer of seriously ill patients by plane and by train has already been activated to relieve hospitals in the Île-de-France region, whose capital is Paris. Its situation is also worrying -484.4 accumulated incidence- but it is that its trend seems more upward even than Italy.

The total confinement of Paris is right now on the table in the words of the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, who describes the situation as “critical”. The ICU have already exceeded the collapse threshold and it is seen that they are not willing to spend months forcing the hospital machine as it has been done in several Spanish communities.

Something similar is happening in Germany with an aggravation: we do not know exactly how the virus is being transmitted. Just as during the first days of the pandemic, everyone was surprised by the extremely low fatality rate in the country governed by Angela Merkel and it was even rumored – without any basis – that they did not count all their deaths, now the situation is the opposite.

If you look at the situation in Germany in recent months, you don’t see any special ups and downs. A continuous plateau with a slight upward trend. However, the problem is that Germany is not testing. According to the latest data from the World-o-Meters portal, there are 29 countries in Europe alone with more tests per inhabitant than Germany. These are terrible figures that make it impossible to detect the extent to which there are infections or not in the country.

Therefore, although the incidence seems very mild, with “only” 162.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the fatality rate has grown to 2.8%, only behind Italy and the United Kingdom and five tenths ahead of Spain. That can only mean one thing: there is huge under-detection in Germany that prevents us from accurately assessing its situation.

Evolution of Covid in Europe.

Evolution of Covid in Europe.

Now, how does all this affect Spain? Do youWe are doomed to a fourth wave? I still have doubts. Not from the rebound, which I take for granted -12 autonomous communities already rose on Wednesday in their incidence to 7 days- but from their virulence. Why? Well, because our cyclical rhythm is not that of Italy, France, Germany or the rest of central Europe.

Al lengthen the second wave so muchWe started with a first wave -Madrid, Navarra- in August and we finished almost in November with the last blows of Asturias, we did not have a peak as big as the rest of the countries … but our final decline coincided with the rise in the UK, Ireland and Portugal and there we got hooked.

Spain had a very tough third wave, like those other three countries, just as it had had a long but moderate second wave compared to those we cited at the beginning of the article. What countries does it make sense to look at right now? Well, in those who suffered with us in January. And what do we see? As can be seen in the graph, we are all a bit the same: stopping a long decline and in a situation of expectation.

Perhaps the delay that we have with respect to the rest of Europe gives us more time to vaccinate – in that sense, Astra Zeneca has been a blow – and brings us closer to the heat of spring. That would lead to a rebound, yes, but slight. Now, nobody can rule out that the transmission trend is not going to turn around suddenly and at the speeds that we see now in France or Italy.

What we can do is be cautious and we have been with the Holy Week measures. The risk was enormous and it has been preferred to avoid it, something we are not very used to, but which should be a very positive factor. The European example is there but it has been out of sync for a long time. We cannot take it at face value as it happened a year ago. The current measures in almost all of Spain seem sufficient to stop too abrupt regrowth. Now, we go back to the beginning of the article, they thought the same in Italy and they were wrong.