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Coronavirus: The British variant is already causing more than 80% of cases in Spain, but it does not lead hospitals to a frightening collapse |  Society

Coronavirus: The British variant is already causing more than 80% of cases in Spain, but it does not lead hospitals to a frightening collapse | Society

A health professional from Horta Primary Care Center (Barcelona) performs a PCR test on a resident of Campoamor Residence on February 3.Enrique Fontcuberta / EFE

The British surrogate met half in Spain The dangerous fame that preceded it. It was said to be the most contagious and it has proven so: if it caused less than 2% of new cases in January, it has now exceeded 80%, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health. But it was also feared that it would be more deadly and lead hospitals to an embarrassing situation, something that has not happened in Spain at the moment. Unlike the UK At the beginning of the year and on France in recent weeks.

The experts consulted confirm that B.1.1.7 (the scientific name for the variable) causes some more serious admissions (although more research is needed to see if it actually increases the mortality rate) and reinforces the fourth wave, but they specify that it has an effect. The Spanish health system is significantly less than in other countries. “The worst of the omens have not materialized, which is clearly good news, but it also shows us that we still have a long way to go to confront the epidemic. It is not easy to determine why what happened in other countries has not been repeated here,” explains Koike Passat, an epidemiologist and researcher at ISGlobal In Barcelona.

According to the latest report on new variants published by Health, On April 12th, the British account for 90% or more of new cases in six autonomous regions (Andalusia, Asturias, Castilla, Lyon, the Community of Valencia, Galicia and Navarra) and 80% in all other cases except for Castilla-La Mancha (77%), Aragon (65%) and Madrid (64%).

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“It is a fact that it is becoming dominant in Spain in such a fast way.” Juan Carlos Galán, head of virology at Ramón University Hospital Cajal (Madrid), explains, “What we still need to investigate further is whether it causes more severe clinical symptoms or a higher mortality rate.” He adds, “There are indications of this, especially in the age groups over 40 or 50, but we still lack the supporting evidence.” There is contradictory and not uniform information on this topic. nature I concluded that this alternative increases the death rate, but later it has not been confirmed, ”says Jose Miguel Cisneros, head of the infectious disease service at Virgen del Rocío Hospital in Seville.

Intensive care unit at the Hospital Clinico de Valencia in November 2020.
Intensive care unit at the Hospital Clinico de Valencia in November 2020. Monica Torres

Experts warn that although the variable has not satisfied hospitals, its effect is significant. We treat severe cases in young people. Lifespan of hospitalized patients decreased. It is true that there is no collapse, but I have 180 patients admitted and I did not expect to have much at this time of year, with more immune population and better weather conditions. It is clear that all of this is due to the alternative, which is making an important contribution to the fourth wave, ”Cisneros adds.

The vaccine is one of the new variants That may have mitigated the impact of B.1.1.7 in Spain. Jes Rodriguez Bagno, Head of the Infectious Diseases Department at Virgen de la Macarena University Hospital (Seville), considers it “too early to know” and that it must be taken into account that other countries with a similar rate of immunization are being hit hard. “It is clear that vaccines have reduced infection directly and indirectly, especially in places like residences, but we still lack the perspective and studies to see if it was a significant factor that deactivated the risk of the surrogate,” continues Rodriguez Pagno.

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Europe experienced a critical moment in January, as the third wave pushed hard across most of the continent. The epidemiological situation was bad, but the predictions were worse. New variants The British, as well as the Brazilians and South Africans – have charted a horizon in which not only would a disease be more dangerous and contagious, but vaccines might lose their effectiveness.

For Elena Vanessa Martinez, president of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology (SEE), this explains the rapid reaction of the entire continent. Germany, for example, has kept schools closed for months. European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) Alert states To prepare for “anticipated increased pressure on healthcare systems”. The European Union has promoted an ambitious plan to genetically sequence up to 10% of positive cases to discover new variants and monitor existing cases.

“The reaction was appropriate after the notifications from the UK. It is normal for new variants to appear, but even then we didn’t hear about it much because the variants known up to that point were not more dangerous. At that time, we saw that new drugs could be … More transmissible or cause more serious clinical pictures, “Martinez explains.

Coronavirus test in London on Friday.
Coronavirus test in London on Friday.Henry Nichols / Reuters

Experts agree that one reason the new variants have underestimated the impact is this Containment measures To prevent its transmission is the same as it was. “In any case, it has been observed that the well-designed restrictions allow, to some extent, the continuation of daily life, as demonstrated by the great work done in the schools,” adds the SEE President.

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However, for Koike Passat, this does not explain everything, since these measures are similar between countries, and within Spain, between autonomous societies. Despite this, accidents and hospitalizations represent significant differences. We don’t know why countries like France have been hit by soaring events in recent weeks and we haven’t. The only clear difference is the climate, which allows for more outdoor life and better ventilation, although I think that will only explain a small fraction of the reality, ”explains Passat.

“When you understand everything that is happening, you can design strict policies. Often the opposite happens to us, that we apply procedures that do not lead us to the desired outcome. Or, on the contrary, cases where we improve results without much effort. This is something we see in comparison. Between countries, but also independent societies, without always knowing how to explain why, ”he concludes.