Spain has most Covid-19 cases in western Europe, says Johns Hopkins University

Spain is now the country in western Europe with the most Covid-19 cases, according to recent data, say Johns Hopkins University.

Spain has most Covid-19 cases in western Europe, says Johns Hopkins University
Covid-19 testing in Spain. Photo: Javier Soriano

The university in Baltimore, in the United States, has ranked countries with the highest total number of Covid-19 cases as of August 7th, using its own statistics and has placed Spain at the highest in western Europe with 314,362 confirmed cases.

An article in Spanish daily newspaper El País, using data from the university shows that Spain is followed very closely by United Kingdom with 310,667 cases, then Italy with 249,204 cases and France with 231,310 cases (although France's own health ministry figures list cases at 197,921).

Comparing case numbers between countries has not been a simple exercise, thanks to differing methods of reporting and and widely varying rates o testing throughout the pandemic.

Even though the statistics point to the fact that Spain has now overtaken the UK in terms of cases, death rates do not follow this trend.

The UK still has the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in western Europe with 46,498 followed by Italy with 35,187 and then France with 30,308. Spain, on the other hand, has 28,500 deaths.

The UK has recently imposed a quarantine on all arrivals from Spain after a spike in cases in some regions.

READ ALSO Which countries have quarantines and travel restrictions in place for Spain?

According to accumulated data in the last two weeks, Spain has 81.4 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, making it the country with the second highest rate in Europe, surpassed only by Romania with 84.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Even though Italy experienced similar numbers to Spain just a few months ago, in the last two weeks Italy has has only registered 6.2 infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

The number of Covid-19 cases worldwide has now passed 19 million. 

The highest number of infections can be found in the United States with 4,883,646, followed by Brazil with 2,912,212, and India with almost two million. This is followed by Russia and then South Africa, according to the data from Johns Hopkins University.





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Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.