That there is a fourth wave of Covid-19 in Spain is not obvious, but there is data on what this would be like if it cannot finally be avoided.

A woman walks with a mask through Madrid.

Absolute stability in the midst of a pandemic is impossible. It would only be achieved by reducing the cases to zero and for this it would be necessary measures that can no longer be taken and that it probably wouldn’t make sense to take them at this point.

As long as there is a possibility of transmission of the virus, it will look for ways to pass from one body to another and will do so as best it can according to our social behavior. The more “normal”, the more possibility of contagion. The further the distance, the lower the famous curve.

For example, during the third wave, the Valencian Community took a long time to take restrictive measures. They wanted to hurry to the maximum and the incidence reached 1,500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants every 14 days (1.5% of the population tested positive in those two weeks) with 62% of ICU beds occupied by cases with clinic Covid.

When bars, restaurants, shops, theaters and gyms were closed, transmission plummeted. Right now, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Health, the Valencian Community is the region with the lowest incidence of the virus, just 36.65 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. All this in less than two months.

Other regions have it more difficult to lower their contagion rates. There Madrid and Catalonia stand out. Their measures have been different when it comes to cutting each rebound … but the results have not varied so much.

At all times, both have had problems reaching the lows in other regions, probably due to their density and their condition as economic and, therefore, social nuclei. The last time Madrid was below 190 cases per 100,000 inhabitants was in mid-August. Catalonia has not dropped below 150 since September 15.

Comparison of curves from different regions.

Comparison of curves from different regions.

What does this mean? That we are still very exposed to the virus and when one is exposed to a transmission that he does not control, the entry and strengthening of different variants is very easy.

By the time we realize it, they are already there, among us. In such a situation, there are always going to be ups and downs. It is impossible to stop them because it is not the objective. You open and close, close and open. The dance without a hammer or with a plastic hammer. The “coexistence”. In this context, from time to time there will be ups and downs and Spain is entering one of them. How far will it go? It’s hard to figure out but we can follow up on some clues.

The first thing would be to look at what situation we are as a country. It is true that each autonomous community is a world in that sense, but it seems that we are going to reach this rebound in a 14-day incidence of around 125 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It is a better situation than when the third wave began with the first rallies in early December (188.72 on December 10, with the logical influence of the Constitution Bridge holidays). That is a first piece of good news.

The second good news comes from abroad: although there is a wave in Central Europe and in Mediterranean countries such as Italy and France, seems not to reach the levels of the second wave of October-November. With Paris already confined and with more than half of Italy without even schools, the normal thing is that things do not go much further.

In any case, these countries are going at a different pace from ours because their third wave from December-January was a slight rebound, nothing more. Does that mean that we are late or early? It is difficult to know, but it cannot be ruled out that we have already gone through what they are going through now because we neglect ourselves at Christmas, it is likely that by then we had more cases with the British variant than were detected and therefore we have already gone through the worst.

Country comparison.

Country comparison.

In the opposite hypothesis, that is, that both we and Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal, which are the countries that are going to an epidemic rhythm similar to oursLet’s be late, we shouldn’t be facing a catastrophic scenario either. It must be borne in mind that this is the worst global pandemic in a century, that millions of people have died in just one year and that the consequences are still unknown, that is, all these optimistic statements are within that context.

Although we are now starting a rebound similar to that of France or Italy, we must think that it will catch us at least with more defenses, that is, with more people vaccinated, which is the last factor to take into account in this analysis.

And it is that the current percentage of vaccination, which is around 4% of Spaniards with the two doses already inoculated, it is too low to stop a wave of contagions. However, it is very effective in curbing it among risk groups. This is not a passport to tranquility because we know that this virus is also lethal among young and middle-aged people, that it can leave them in the ICU for several weeks and destroy their lives … now, having protected our elders and our health workers should be in a radical decrease in the number of serious cases and deaths.

In short, the most probable thing – this is not a prediction but an analysis of possibilities – is that this rebound that we are beginning to see now, is complicated in terms of the number of infections for at least two or three more weeks.

If it will become “a wave” or it will be a small rebound typical of the lack of control of the transmission, we do not know for sure. What we should be able to ensure is that it will kill, in proportion, fewer people and that is certainly a relief. It should also be noted in the number of hospitalized and critically ill, although in a milder way. It will be important, therefore, that we look at the correct indicators: in April there will be more infections than in March, of course, the issue will be to know if there will be more hospitalized and dead than in February. I tend to think not, but it is not in my hands, so be cautious.