Fears of fourth Covid wave mount as ICU patients rise for 16 days straight
Top epidemiologist warns tighter restrictions are needed to bring infections to a halt
The prospect of a fourth coronavirus wave in Catalonia seems more plausible by the day as most epidemiological indicators suggest on Monday that the risk of new outbreaks is on the rise while hospitals are under increasing levels of strain.
With 515 people in intensive care units as of April 11, two more than the previous day, the number of patients in ICUs has steadily grown for 16 days in a row. There are 1,763 hospitalized patients, a daily increase of 52 people.
Despite the renewed county lockdown that came into force last Friday, the top epidemiologist at Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic, Antoni Trilla, believes that the fourth wave will be "hard to control" without tighter restrictions to reduce social interactions and mobility.
In an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, Trilla said he believes coronavirus indicators will continue to rise over the coming weeks, and warns that Catalan hospitals could have a hard time coping with a new wave of contagions considering the current occupancy rates of ICUs.
Vaccination rollout ‘accelerating’
Meanwhile, after several delays in the vaccination rollout, which were compounded by weeks of uncertainty over the links between the AstraZeneca jab and very rare cases of blood clots, Spanish authorities are hopeful that inoculations against Covid-19 will advance at a good pace.
Spain’s president Pedro Sánchez said the vaccination rollout is "accelerating," setting "new record after new record" in April, and says that "each new month will improve the previous one."
By May 3, Sánchez says 5 million people will have received coronavirus vaccines, which will rise to 15 million by June 14, 25 million by July 19, and 33 million (70% of the Spanish population) by the end of August.
Rollout to those between 70 and 79 begins
Indeed, the first doses of the Janssen vaccine, the latest one approved by the European Medicines Agency, will arrive in Spain on Wednesday morning. They require a single dose for the whole inoculation and, according to the Spanish health minister, Carolina Darias, they will be used for those aged between 70 and 79.
The Catalan government, in charge of the rollout in Catalonia, has not made a general call for all those between 70 and 79 to book an appointment, but might do so in the coming days. The health authorities have already been administering a jab to some residents aged 78 and 79. The official data as of April 12 states that 15.5% of people in the 70-79 age range have already received the first dose.