Reality is not a video game. It is impossible to instantly know the number of cases, hospitalized or deceased in each country, as those YouTube pages that were updating numbers at a supposed real time seemed to make us believe. Obviously, between the event and the public communication of the event there is a long and bureaucratic road, and it is logical that this should be the case: someone dies in Aranda de Duero, someone is hospitalized in Móstoles, someone tests positive in Calafell … and all that requires a notification process that becomes more complicated until the report of the Ministry of Health is reached, the only one that centralizes data from seventeen different health systems.

Now that being said, sometimes the lack of information and the enormous accumulated delay makes it very difficult to know the magnitude of the situation in which we are. It has happened in all previous waves and is happening again in this one. There is a gulf between the number of deaths registered by certain autonomous communities and those registered by the Ministry, which makes it very difficult to measure the times correctly. Many weeks have passed since we began to see cases rise until we began to see the same with deaths … and this is not only due to the usual lag of about two weeks between one parameter and another.

Let’s go with the clearest examples, which are those of Catalonia and Madrid. In the last seven days, Catalonia has reported 164 deaths in its regional reports. In Madrid, 103 have been registered. Only between these two communities, we speak of 267 deaths per week, that is, about 38 per day. In the total of the country, always according to the reports of the different ministries, in the last seven days, 665 deaths have been reported, which is equivalent to 95 per day, a figure much lower than those that previous upswings accustomed us, but terrible in herself, as it leads us to the 2,500 monthly projection.

Deceased according to the Autonomous Communities.

Guillermo Ortiz

If you compare these figures with those of the Ministry, you don’t quite understand anything. For Health, all deaths that cannot be dated and that do not include the complete patient file do not exist. That means that, according to the Carlos III Health Institute report this Friday, in Spain 342 people have died in those same seven days, practically half of what the ministries are saying. If we do not focus on the dated ones but simply on the notified ones, we have 520, a figure closer to what is probably the reality, but still very low.

According to the Ministry, 62 people have died in Madrid and Catalonia during the past week, which is practically the figure that both communities give per day. All that offset will be corrected in the following days and, suddenly, we will have days with 150 or 200 reported deaths … just when in reality the figure is going down. The problem is no longer a few geeks who like to analyze numbers … but restrictive measures are taken with those numbers as a reference.

The public perception that something is going right or wrong is based on outdated statistics. Thus, we spent weeks saying: “There are many cases, but no one dies” when the number of deaths was already significant … and I’m afraid that we can spend another couple of weeks clutching our heads when the situation already seems to be more or less under control.

Deceased according to the Ministry of Health.

Deceased according to the Ministry of Health.

Guillermo Ortiz

For all this, it is convenient to continue having the cumulative incidence, especially the seven-day one, as the main reference, since it gives us the most immediate figure, although on occasions it may be distorted or incomplete. It is no coincidence that this parameter has dropped by 26.28% in the last ten days. It gives a perfect measure of what is happening in the country, because the virulence of a wave is determined by the transmission capacity of the virus. As soon as the virus stops being transmitted, the rest go down automatically.

Thus, that drastic drop in cases is already moving to a stagnation in the number of total hospitalized (10,015 by 9,825 from last Friday, a rise of just 1.93%) and very soon it will be transferred in occupied ICU beds (1,928 by 1,698, still 13.54% more). Even in the best of statistical scenarios, in which we could account for each death as it occurs, there would always be a time when all the parameters fell and the latter was still up.

The point is that we are going to find an artificial rise. All these indicators will begin to fall apart … and the Ministry will continue to tell us about huge and outdated numbers of deaths. Let us be prudent at that time to know what is true and what is accumulated in these figures and do not rush.

In other words, Let’s not make the reverse mistake of underestimating the early July virus. By then, no one would have imagined even 1,000 deaths a month. Unfortunately, we are going for about 1,100 in fifteen days, and I already said that there is still a week left, probably, until stabilization and subsequent decline.


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