Spain wants to treat Covid as an “endemic” phenomenon


Spain wants to hear another music around the Covid-19. The president of the left-wing government, Pedro Sanchez, called on Monday, January 10, for a new strategy: to move from managing a pandemic to one that is endemic. Once the current wave has passed, the sixth in Spain, Madrid is pushing to open a debate on the management of this health crisis not only in its country but also in Europe.

So-called “sentinel” surveillance

This proposal would consist in considering the virus as a normal flu, in ceasing to count each case of contamination and in no longer testing at the slightest symptom. The Spanish health authorities are already working to switch within a few months to so-called ” sentinel ”: working from statistical evaluations and via a network of watch doctors to assess the progress of the virus.

« This is a debate that we are trying to open at European level, assured Monday Pedro Sanchez. Our Minister of Health spoke about it to his European counterparts, we see that the mortality rate has decreased, science has given us the answer to protect ourselves, so I believe that we meet the conditions to open this debate with precautions of course . ». Health Minister Carolina Darias insisted on this plan again this week: she wants this sixth wave of coronavirus to be the last to be managed in this way: “We need to move from emergency vigilance to higher quality vigilance, comparable to that of other respiratory phenomena. »

But for now, these calls for a change in management remain proposals, with no date on the horizon. Spain cannot decide alone. It must respect its international health commitments, in particular to transmit the number of cases identified to the European Center for Disease Control. The World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the European Medicines Agency were quick to warn this week against a hasty decision. In Spain, most doctors and epidemiologists greeted with great caution and reluctance this proposal for an “endemic” management of the health crisis. Only an association of family doctors came out in favour.

Intensive care units under pressure

Is the Spanish government tired like everyone else and in a hurry to put an end to a pandemic that is disrupting part of economic and social life? The current sixth wave, at the height of an explosion of cases due to the end of the year holidays (more than 3,156 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over fourteen days), is putting intensive care under strain with 23.6% of beds occupied by Covid patients.

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The positivity rate remains particularly high (39.8%) while certain protocols have been relaxed: contact cases are no longer tested if they have no symptoms. City doctors are totally overwhelmed by the number of positive cases and are struggling to manage sick leave requests. So much so that several regions have decided to manage the start of sick leave and its end after seven days at the same time, to avoid bringing the patient back.