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COVID-19

Five stats that show the impact of Spain’s vaccine campaign on Covid infections and deaths

As Spain’s vaccination drive goes up a gear, the number of Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths is dropping. Here are five facts backed up by stats that illustrate the positive impact vaccines are having on the pandemic in Spain. 

Five stats that show the impact of Spain's vaccine campaign on Covid infections and deaths
Joaquina, 106, thanks the health worker who’s just vaccinated her in the Basque city of San Sebastián. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

Almost five months into its vaccine campaign, Spain continues to pick up the pace of inoculation, setting a new record on May 14th with 622,767 people vaccinated in one day. 

Around 7 million people (14 percent of the population) have now received the full Covid-19 inoculation, and 15 million (31 percent) have received both doses.

This is having an overwhelmingly positive impact in terms of the prevalence of coronavirus infections, hospitalisations and deaths in Spain, as the following points will showcase.

1.Covid deaths in over-80s are down by 86 percent: Almost 100 percent of Spain’s over 80s have now received their full vaccine treatment. 

According to data from Spain’s Carlos III Health Institute, Covid infections in this age group have dropped by an average of 44 percent every month since Spain’s vaccination campaign started on December 27th 2020.

This is a crucial drop as Covid deaths among the country’s over-80s represent around half of Spain’s total coronavirus death toll of 79,432. Once Spain’s over-70s are fully vaccinated, the reduction in coronavirus fatalities could be even greater as 80 percent of all Covid deaths have occured in this age group. 

2.Weekly Covid deaths have dropped by 90 percent: Since late January 2021, weekly Covid deaths in Spain have dropped by 90 percent. 

This has been particularly noticeable in care homes – where in the last week of January 778 elderly people died in Spain, whereas from April 26th to May 2nd only 6 Covid deaths were recorded in these residencias (care homes). 

3.Hospital occupation has dropped below 30 percent in May: According to Spain’s Health Ministry, as of May 14th there were 7,000 Covid patients hospitalised with Covid-19 in Spain, the lowest figure since September 3rd 2020.

Photo: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

4.ICU bed occupancy has also dropped to 20 percent in May: So far this month the number of people admitted to intensive care units in Spain has dropped by 377. 

Spain’s national average is still in the high risk classification for potentially overwhelmed hospitals, given that there are regions such as the Basque Country (38.4 percent), Madrid (32 percent), La Rioja (32 percent) Catalonia (30 percent) and Aragón (30 percent) were ICU units are under pressure. 

But overall Spain is 4 points away from moving into the medium risk category for ICU occupancy. 

5.Spain’s infection rate is almost at the medium risk category: As of May 18th, the national fortnightly infection rate stands at 151 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, just one point away from moving from the “high risk” to the “medium risk” category. 

This comes after the incidence of the virus rose again over Easter during the country’s fourth wave, and half of Spain was in the “extreme risk” level with more than 250 fortnightly infections per 100,000 people. 

There are still plenty of new cases- 11,061 just over the weekend – but overall the prevalence of the virus is dropping. Vaccines, together with other barriers and restrictions, are playing a pivotal role in reducing Covid infections, especially serious ones.

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COVID-19

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.

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