Spain wants to stop counting Covid-19 infections to assess severity of pandemic 

Spain wants to stop counting Covid-19 infections to assess severity of pandemic 
Photo: Josep Lago/AFP
Spain’s Health Ministry announced on Tuesday it intends to stop using the infection rate and other case number indicators to determine if the country’s epidemiological situation is improving or worsening. 

The Spanish government plans to stop using the number of positive cases among 100,000 people over the past 7 or 14 days as a means of assessing how the pandemic is evolving in the country.

Health Minister Carolina Darias told journalists on Tuesday her department has determined that this data is not as conclusive to evaluate the current stage of the pandemic. 

“As we gain more tools and knowledge, we see that an increase in cases does not necessarily have a proportional impact on the pandemic,” Darias argued.

The infection rate – known in Spanish as la incidencia acumulada – has been the main way Spanish authorities have informed the public of where the virus was spreading fastest across its 17 regions and 50 provinces. 

It’s been the basis of the Health Ministry’s four risk categories – low (25- 50 cases per 100,00 people) medium (50-150 cases per 100,000 people), high (150 to 250 cases per 100,000) and extreme (more than 250 cases per 100,000 people). 

This in turn has been one of the main criteria used by the regions to determine whether to roll out tighter or lighter Covid-19 restrictions.

Spanish health authorities also want to stop referring to the positivity rate of PCR tests carried out around the country as a means of judging the prevalence of the virus. 

Instead, Spain will look at the rate of vaccination, the presence of new variants, the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations and ICU admissions as well as Covid deaths as a means of assessing the impact of the virus.

“They will be able to give us a much more accurate picture of the epidemiological reality,” Spain’s Health Minister concluded. 

Sanidad (Spain’s Health Ministry) won’t stop reporting the infection rate completely, but as Darias indicated it will be evaluated “separately, by age group” rather than just as a general rate among every 100,000 people.

As Spain turns over a new page in the way it reports its epidemiological situation, the country has incidentally just left the extreme risk category with fewer than 250 cases per 100,000 people. 

And if these figures don’t offer a clear picture of where the fifth wave is going as health authorities suggest, Spain has just reached its first immunity target of 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated. 

There have however been 194 Covid deaths over the past 24 hours, Covid hospitalisations number 6,806 and the percentage of ICU bed occupancy is 17.39 percent.

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