Spain would reach an AI of 3,462 on 6 January but the fatality of the ‘omicron wave’ is 0.1% compared to 0.5% of the ‘delta wave’.

Pages of the Magi in the Madrid Metro.  Victor Lerena / EFE

Spain has entered blindly in 2022, with no data on new Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations until Monday, January 3. The Accumulated Incidence at 14 days has broken its record on December 30 with 1,775 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, fulfilling the predictions advanced by the experts before Christmas. This same model now points to an acceleration in the rate of infections for next week, to the point where we would reach an AI of practically 3,500 (3,462 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) by Three Kings Day.

The risk of regrowth it shoots up to magnitudes never seen before during the Covid pandemic in our country. This indicator is calculated from the RT or Rate Ratio, a way of measuring the speed with which new cases appear among the population based on the percentage of growth in the last 7 days. The forecast on Christmas Eve was already bleak, with Madrid and La Rioja pointing to an alarming AI that exceeded 4,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The prediction, in any case, was that no Community would drop below 1,000 AI points.

This last data has finally been confirmed, after increasing the Accumulated Incidence at the national level 864 points more than a week ago. All C.CAA. end December with AI above 1,000. The most alarming contagion conditions occur in Navarra (3,810), the Basque Country (2,731), Castilla y León (2,539) and Aragón (2,456). La Rioja, with 2,861 points, and Madrid, with 2,426, are also in worrying ranges but have slowed the upward trend that threatened to place them at more than 4,000 points. The healthiest data are those of Melilla (1,058), Andalusia (1,080), Ceuta (1,246) and the Valencian Community (1,171).

Cumulative incident collected by @ ngbpadel2.

Cumulative incident collected by @ ngbpadel2.

With a view to next week, as the user @ ngbpadel2 collects, only three autonomies They can boast of maintaining their risk of regrowth at less than 2,000 points: Melilla (1,364), Ceuta (1,557) and the Valencian Community (1,686). Andalusia (2,041), Asturias (2,524), Balearic Islands (2,245), Galicia (2,901) and Murcia (2,070) would remain in the range of 2,000 and 3,000 points. From there we find the Canary Islands (3,206), Cantabria (3,225), Castilla-La Mancha (4,701), Catalonia (4,175) and Madrid (4,586).

The remaining ACs enter the New Year with a risk of dizzying regrowth. Is about Aragon, with 4,960 points; Castilla y León with 5,230; Extremadura, with 5,762; Basque Country, with 5,300; and La Rioja, with 5,094. But nevertheless, Navarra once again stands out as the most worrying situation, with the possibility of reaching 8,307 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In total, the risk of regrowth for Spain scales from 1,759 a week ago -a prediction fulfilled, as we saw a moment ago- to 3,462 points with which we would eat the roscón de Reyes.

Regrowth risk calculated by @ ngbpadel2.

Regrowth risk calculated by @ ngbpadel2.

Lethality falls

However, the latest epidemiological report of 2021 from the Carlos III Health Institute offers a reason to start the year with optimism: the fatality of the sixth wave has dropped to 0.1%. Since October 14, when infections began to rise again, there have been 1.1 million cases and 1,636 deaths, both figures accumulating in December, when omicron was already present in the country and the rate of infection skyrocketed.

The fifth wave, dominated by the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, yielded a fatality of 0.5%, thanks to the generalization of vaccines among the most vulnerable ages, those over 60 years of age. The fourth, in which they had not yet covered the majority of said population, showed a very different lethality despite being, by far, the one with the lowest number of infections: 1.45%, in line with other pre-fatality figures. vaccines.

Now, with record numbers of new infections every day, the indicators of serious illness (hospitalizations and deaths) are showing the most moderate trend of the entire pandemic. Be careful: as the experts have pointed out, despite the reduction in the percentages, If the new cases are much higher than those of the other waves, the numbers of admissions and deaths will not lag behind those that we have already experienced.

The good news is that, comparing the lethality of the two waves where vaccines already showed their protective effect and taking as a reference the data provided by the Ministry of Health, the sixth – with omicron prevailing since December – has reduced possible deaths by 4,046 caused by Covid. According to the calculations of this newspaper, there are about 53 lives ‘saved’ every day from this latest epidemic wave.

Lethality differences between waves

The fatality is calculated from the deaths that occurred among the confirmed cases of a disease. Therefore, it has to do with both the intrinsic virulence of the virus or the specific variant and the factors that influence its ability to cause serious illness and death, such as restrictive measures (masks, curfews, etc.) and vaccines.

“Vaccines have played their role in reducing severity and deaths,” he explains. Oscar Zurriaga, vice president of the Spanish Epidemiology Society. “Vaccinated people die, but now, with 90% of people with a complete schedule, the rare thing is that they die not vaccinated because there are very few.” In addition, people who die “have complications, comorbidities, etc.”

The global lethality of the pandemic stands at 1.4%, with differences between communities as notable as 2.4% in Castilla-La Mancha and 0.8% in the Balearic and Canary Islands. So far in the sixth wave, global fatality has dropped three tenths, seven since the fifth began.

Since the second wave, it has been between 2% and 3%, a very high figure for a virus of its characteristics, but low compared to the other two more related coronaviruses: the 2002 SARS had a fatality of 9.6%, while the 2012 MERS reached 34.5%. This high mortality also explains why these two viruses were not able to expand further, since a dead host is a host that does not transmit the virus and it dies with it.

During the first wave of SARS-CoV-2, a lethality much higher than the rest was established: 8%. However, it is possible that it is less, since not everyone was tested with symptoms, so many infections that did not evolve into clinically significant forms would not be counted.

Flu and Covid

In fact, fatality can not only be calculated on the basis of confirmed cases, but also on estimated cases, something that is often done with influenza. The ENE-COVID seroprevalence study that was carried out between April and May 2020 calculated that the number of Covid cases in Spain was 10 times higher than that recorded, thus placing the fatality rate at 0.8%. That is, seven times more than that observed in the sixth wave.

The current figure would be higher than that of the last significant flu season in our country, with 619,000 confirmed cases and 3,900 attributable deaths, which would give a fatality of 0.6%. However, it should be noted that the total numbers of cases would be higher, since the influenza surveillance system in Spain did not exhaustively monitor cases as with Covid.

“Comparing the mortality of influenza with that of Covid is not appropriate at this time,” explains Zurriaga. “The total number of flu cases is estimated because many of them are not part of the system, they are colds in which the patient stays at home and now”, without being picked up by the institutions.

The epidemiologist also points out that all the Covid data is provisional. “Until the pandemic ends, we will not be able to determine it.” Although he welcomes the reduction in mortality, he remembers that the total number of annual flu cases is much lower than that of CovidTherefore, the impact of the disease, which can have comparable fatalities, is very different. In this context, the absolute numbers are also important.

Record of infections at the end of the year

The Madrid’s community It has closed 2021 with 18,303 new infections by coronavirus, 14,753 of them communicated in the last 24 hours of the year. Hospital pressure, without being comparable to that of other waves, has risen to 1,605 admitted, a sustained growth with 234 patients in ICU. The deceased have increased from 8 on Thursday to 14 on Friday, according to its epidemiological report.

In the last twenty-four hours, Navarra It has set a record in the level of infections by Covid-19, approaching 3,800 cases in a day in which three people have died and 17 have been admitted, 2 in the ICU. Andalusia also marks its milestone in pandemic with 15,471 new coronavirus infections. There are 1,108 Covid patients at the moment, with 182 admitted to Intensive Care.

Murcia beats for the fourth consecutive day his record of infections with 3,471 a day, and although hospital occupancy data have not been given, four deaths have been reported. Catalonia ends 2021 exceeding 100,000 weekly positives -103,695 in the last seven days-, which represents about 15,000 new cases every day on average. There are 1,612 hospitalized in total, two more than the day before, of which 428 are in the ICU.

Galicia It also breaks records with a total of 5,797 new people infected in one day, with 50 patients in the ICU and another 270 in isolated beds. The Rioja reports 940 new positives, and Aragon It also breaks its mark with new 6,324 positives, adding one more deceased to the count. The Valencian Community It pulverizes its cap by exceeding 11,000 infections this Friday, specifically 11,822, with 967 people admitted, of which 186 are in the ICU.

Finally, the Accumulated Incidence by age confirms that the worst bands in circulation of the coronavirus are those of 20-29 years (2,881 points), 30-39 (2,353) and 40-49 (2,135). However, the AI is also growing in the most vulnerable ages: 60-69 (1.005), 70-79 (521) and from the 80s (465.5). This may end up being reflected in an increase in hospital pressure and mortality, making the ‘omicron wave’ less bloodless than was initially expected.