Catalonia exceeds 26% of ICU beds with Covid: anomaly or warning for the rest of Spain?

The matter right now is to find out if Catalonia is an anomaly within the evolution of the fifth wave in Spain or is it a pattern that will be repeated in several regions. The answer to this question will be decisive when assessing the damage and, unfortunately, it will catch us in any case on a different footing, when it is already impossible to take any restriction measure.

It will also help us, hopefully, for a possible fall wave without the certainty of how long the effect of vaccines lasts on our immune system. Seen what is seen, without that almost 50% of Spaniards already vaccinated, this would be a massacre.

The numbers throughout the country are bad for solemnity: this Friday 31,060 new cases have been added to the total. To find the last time that 30,000 new cases were exceeded in a single day, you have to go to January 19, in the worst of the third wave. The 35,000 mark has never been exceeded and we hope we do not have a new threshold.

As a result, incidents have risen again by leaps and bounds: we have 254,792 cases detected in the last fourteen days, that is, 537.34 for every one hundred thousand inhabitants. In the last week, there have been 142,739, which leaves us at 300 per hundred thousand. The normal thing, therefore, is that the medium-term incidence continues to rise. In one week, it has done so by 69.95%.

With incidents bordering on or above 650 in Aragon, Navarra, Castilla y León and, of course, Catalonia, the hope is that the mantra that this flood of cases will not saturate hospital care will be fulfilled. Primary care, with a projection of half a million cases per month, can already be considered lost, turning again to the treatment of a single disease and leaving the others in the background just during the holidays of many doctors, such and like it happened last summer.

At the moment, hospitals are not nearly as full as they were in previous waves … but if we don’t stop the number of infections they will be much more full than is acceptable. If everything is going to be comparing us with the massacre of March 2020 or that of February 2021, then there is no problem. If we analyze things as they are at the moment, there is no room for complacency.

In the total of the country, we have 5,056 hospitalized for Covid, 61.99% more than last Friday. Occupied ICU beds grew at a slower pace but grew: 39.07%. It is difficult that this growth will not be maintained while the number of new admissions increases, which today was close to a thousand. So far this week, 4,178 new hospitalizations have been reported, 79.39% more than the previous week.

New weekly income in Spain.

These are not outrageous figures by themselves, but the trend is. Hospital parameters are already rising more or less at the same rate as positive ones. In the case of Catalonia, they are close to real alert figures, without us being able to know why. There, the virus is also priming with the youngest while their vaccination rate is slightly higher than the total for the country (50.25% of Catalans have already received the full schedule).

Why, then, is the virus in Catalonia causing so many hospitalizations and critically ill patients? Is about a new variant within variant? Nothing allows us to say so for the moment, but it is rare for a region to follow a different path from the rest.

Right now, according to the Ministry of Health, The region chaired by Pere Aragonès has 1,793 hospitalized, 90.74% more than last week. This is already problematic both in terms of volume and trend, but more difficult to understand is the situation of critical patients: this Friday’s report speaks of 312 ICU beds occupied with a Covid clinic.

This is 70.49% more than last week, that is, Catalonia not only has a higher volume of serious cases than the other autonomous communities, but they are increasing at a faster rate. Covid occupancy over the total is now 26.02%, almost three times the national average.

To follow this weekly evolution, Catalonia would cross the threshold of 500 critical cases and 35% ICU occupancy next Friday, indicating saturation of the system. In other words, we are seven days away from one of our most populous communities going into hospital collapse. It is decisive to know if this is going to be transferred to the other communities – only the Balearic Islands, Madrid and Castilla y León exceed 10% very slightly – or if, as I said at the beginning, it is an anomaly that will be limited to a single region.

In truth, it would be strange, but the virus has shown us that anything is possible. The first that Catalonia must do is lower the transmission as it is, which we do not know if it is achieving or not because it has changed the test administration protocol to close contacts. Positivity goes up and that’s bad news.

Number of deaths in Catalonia.

Number of deaths in Catalonia.

We have, for now, the consolation of the dead. The daily average in the last consolidated week of the Ministry – from July 2 to 8 – is seven per day. The problem is that the unconsolidated week, the most recent, already exceeds those figures and is going to eight.

The normal thing, if we follow the example of the United Kingdom that we analyzed last Thursday, is that these figures triple or quadruple in a relatively short time, which would put us in about 30 deaths a day throughout the month, and I’m afraid that’s an optimistic estimate. If we continue to increase the number of critical patients and no matter how quickly we vaccinate, it seems inevitable.

Here we can go back to the example of Catalonia. According to the Ministry of Health, from June 22 to 28, nine people died. From June 29 to July 5 there were thirteen… and from July 6 to 13, the last consolidated update, there were nineteen. Obviously, these are very low figures, but it is logical that we are cautious about evolution.

The death toll has doubled in two weeks and with these increases in the other parameters, it is possible that it will continue to rise. Next week will be key to see how far this has gotten out of hand and what consequences it will have. Just talking about a projection of half a million people affected by a disease that is largely unknown and with long-term consequences is scary, really.

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