Covid incidence rate in Catalonia hits all-time high of 1,358

Outbreak risk soars to 2,029 points, a new record, while vaccines avoid over 400,000 new coronavirus cases in one year

A Covid-19 patient in the ICU at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital (by Blanca Blay)
A Covid-19 patient in the ICU at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

Gerard Escaich Folch | Barcelona

December 27, 2021 02:56 PM

On the first anniversary of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Catalonia, the coronavirus pandemic remains one of the most pressing topics. Catalonia is currently undergoing the sixth wave of the pandemic, and numbers keep worsening. 

On December 26, Catalan health authorities recorded the highest incidence rate since the start of the pandemic as officials registered 1,358.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days. In only two months, Catalonia has gone from having one of the lowest incidence rates in Europe, with an IA14 of only 45.27, to registering an all-time high.

Another record seen in the latest data provided by health authorities on December 27 is the highest outbreak risk seen since the pandemic began, of 2,029 points. 

The second-highest figure for this metric was seen on July 9, 2021, when officials recorded an outbreak risk of 1,828 points. 

The outbreak risk (or iEPG, calculated by multiplying the average spread of the virus over the past seven days by the cumulative incidence over the past two weeks) is considered to be low at 30, moderate at 70, and high at 100 – right now, Catalonia’s stands at 2,029, up 338 points compared to a day earlier.

Catalonia has seen an increase in the outbreak risk of almost 800 points in one week, as data from December 20 registered the metric at 1,250 points. 

Another important piece of epidemiological data recorded is the transmission rate. On December 26, Catalonia’s transmission rate was registered at 1.55, far lower than the record high from March 18, 2020, when it was 5. 

In fact, in the last week, it has decreased from 1.7 on December 19. The lowest figure was during May 2020, when the transmission rate was only 0.64 points.

Hospitalized patients growing but not skyrocketing

One of the reasons the Catalan government announced new Covid-19 measures on December 20 was to avoid a collapse of the health system, as Catalan president Pere Aragonès explained during his Christmas speech

On December 27, health authorities in Catalonia estimated that the vaccination campaign has prevented over 400,000 Covid cases and 80,000 hospitalizations. According to CatSalut officials, shots helped stop between 10,000 and 13,000 people ending up in intensive care units. 

As of December 26, there are currently 1,457 hospitalized patients and 399 ICU patients in Catalonia. The number has been increasing since November 5, 2021, when there were 312 in the hospital and only 78 in an intensive care unit. 

As estimated by CatSalut, the vaccination campaign has avoided thousands of hospitalizations and this can be seen in the current metrics. Despite the rise in numbers, we haven’t yet seen numbers as high as other waves of the pandemic, when on July 20, 2021, there were 1,872 patients in hospitals and 404 in the ICU.

A similar case happened on October 27, 2020, two months before the first vaccine was administered, there were 398 patients in ICU and up to 2,205 patients hospitalized. However, the number is far lower compared to the all-time high registered by authorities on January 24, 2021, with 3,038 patients in hospitals around Catalonia.

Fewer deaths during the sixth wave

In the last week, between December 20 to 26, Catalonia registered 79 deaths, and 65 the previous week. 

In the first month of the Covid-19 pandemic, there were 672 deaths seen between February 25, 2020, and March 25, 2020. In the last month, November 26 to December 26, there were 339 confirmed deaths due to Covid-19.

Check all the Covid-19 daily figures here and the latest data on the vaccine rollout in Catalonia here