“We have a detection capacity greater than the first wave”

Fernando Simón, one of the main faces of this 2020, gave an interview to Efe in which no subject was left to discuss. The expert looked back and recalled the highlights of the pandemic to highlight each of the measures that had been taken. This did not prevent the director of the Coordination Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES) from predicting the arrival of a third wave without revealing the extent of it.

Despite the prediction of this post-Christmas rebound, the expert launched a spear in favor of the health system by saying: “We have a detection capacity far superior to the first wave, we are much better prepared in terms of surveillance, we have more resilient health systems ”.

However, that does not mean that the company will be well prepared emotionally for what is to come, stressed Simón. At the same time, he criticized that the worst thing to do is to feed the virus this Christmas and cause an increase in cases in mid-January, as the vaccination process that began on December 27 would be in jeopardy: “yes we have managed to ensure that (the rebound) does not arrive until the end of January, we will be in a radically different position because we will have already vaccinated a significant part of our most vulnerable, and that changes things a lot”.

According to the expert, the right thing to do would be to reduce the transmission of the pathogen, as they managed to do before the summer. On June 21, at the end of the first state of alarm, the cumulative incidence in 14 days was 8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In Asturias it was 0.68 and Galicia and Andalusia barely exceeded 1, while Madrid’s was 18.08 and Catalonia’s 16.19, he told Efe. However, these numbers paint an entirely different picture at the end of summer.

For Simón, the trigger for this situation was not the laxity of the restrictions, but the way they were communicated to the population: there could be “a problem with the message”, which led to a “more normal summer”. than usual. it should have been. ”

Simon on the WHO: “International alarms are much slower than you think”

The face of COVID-19 management has also had time to go back to the origins of the pandemic to criticize the actions of the WHO: “International alarms are much slower than you might think”.

A year ago, the epidemic started. Specifically, the first steps were taken on January 23, 2019, when China shut down Wuhan and two other neighboring cities. Despite this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided not to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Importance (ESPII) in the face of the coronavirus epidemic.

Seven days later, he changed his mind and it wasn’t until March 11 that he defined SARS-CoV-2 as a pandemic, the expert told Efe. At that time, the Health Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Center, which he has headed since 2012, had already adapted the preparedness and response plan that he had carried out a few years previously for SARS-CoV to the new virus, such as the ‘explains the specialist. to Eph.

The virus arrived in Spain at the end of February, when small outbreaks imported from Italy began to appear, mainly. A few weeks later, cases doubled to 1,200, mostly concentrated in Madrid, Vitoria and La Rioja. “At that time, thinking about closing Spain seemed a bit crazy,” he admits.

Despite this, the Government was forced to act to reduce the number of cases and on March 14, it declared a state of alert and the confinement of the population. “The decline had to be much faster because otherwise, neither the ICUs nor the hospitals would hold. There were many who were exceeded, even if overall we can say that we were at the limit, but we did not reach it, ”he maintains.

For this reason, on March 31, all non-essential activity was paralyzed for two weeks, including the Easter holidays, in order to reduce mobility by 80% and leave it the equivalent of a weekend. week, explains the expert. Simón argues that this was a necessary measure given that the pandemic was already affecting the healthcare system.

Faced with this situation, the expert asks a question: could it have been done before? He answers himself: “Who in Spain would have accepted a closure like that of March 14 with 150 cases? As much as we thought there was a risk, it was not acceptable.” According to the director, the measures “were taken within the time limits that could be taken”.

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