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year of coronavirus pandemic ends with two million dead and record vaccine

Publication: Thursday, December 31, 2020 10:46

The year 2020 which ends this Thursday began with the novelty of a coalition government in Spain. The November 2019 elections made possible an agreement between the PSOE and United We Can and from there was born, after an agonizing inauguration, the first two-tone Executive of Democracy.

366 days goes a long way and while we Spaniards argued over government accounts to carry out their plans, in China there were concerns about pneumonia of unknown origin. Just a year ago, on December 31, Chinese authorities launched the first alert for a virus that has already claimed two million lives and more than 82 million infections, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. .

SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus, has quietly started to monopolize the media. He first appeared in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, where his appearance was tied to a city market. There they started talking about bats, pangolins and other animals that could have acted as intermediaries between the virus and humans.

The extreme confinement decreed in the city or the construction of a hospital in record time to meet health needs seem to be drawn from the plot of a dystopia. In Europe, this would not happen, we think.

Spain reported its first positive on January 31

On January 30, the WHO declared an international health emergency with 8,000 cases in China and 170 deaths, around 100 positive in 18 other countries and local transmission in four. A day later, on the 31st, Spain reported its first positive case: a German tourist in La Gomera.

The epidemic in Spain has found a newcomer to the Ministry of Health, Salvador Illa, a philosopher without health training who came to a department “empty” of skills, since the bulk of health management falls to the Autonomous Communities.

For crisis management, Illa relied on a face known for the Ebola crisis: Fernando Simón, the director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES). Simón, now omnipresent, said at first that the epidemic had “possibilities to begin to calm down” and that Spain would not have “at most, beyond an isolated case”.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit all governments like a tsunami. February has been a wasted month in which cases have trickled down but the virus is progressing unstoppable. The situation in Italy worsened for weeks and was contained just a week before President Pedro Sánchez decided the same for Spain. It was March 15, 2020. Only three days earlier, the WHO would have declared the pandemic.

40 days confined

The state of alarm consumed the spring we spent locked up as disease ravaged the country and decimated health resources and its workers, so applauded at eight in the afternoon. During the 40 days of strict confinement, the images we had seen for the first time in China were repeated: temporary hospitals like Ifema, morgues in emblematic places like the Palace of Ice in Madrid …

The arrival of good weather was a turning point and a return to the “old normalcy”, with people going to their vacation destinations and spending the days of good weather on the terraces, albeit with a mask.

But it was only a mirage and the announced second wave was ahead. In June, an epidemic among seasonal workers put the country in trouble. In mid-July, Spain returned to the quota of 587 daily cases. A month later, Health shut down the nightlife, linked to the first lights.

The long-awaited return to school in September has become a public debate on health measures to prevent community transmission from taking us back to the situation in March. Classes subsequently proved to be the safest place for children and families, although that did not stop the second wave from advancing.

Christmas and the fear of the third wave

The second wave turned out to be less intense but more durable than the spring. The onset of cold weather and the mobility of holiday bridges fueled the fire, and after a little stabilization, the third wave appears to be here. Between the two, the appearance of a strain in the United Kingdom 70% more contagious and which arrives at Christmas, triggering all the health alarms and anticipating a bad start for 2021.

The health challenge of the pandemic was also a great scientific challenge: to develop a vaccine capable of dealing with the coronavirus in record time. The pharmaceutical industry succeeded in less than a year in developing sera capable of immunizing against the deadly pandemic and did so with an innovative method, using RNA molecules instead of viruses to generate defenses.

The first vaccine to be licensed worldwide was from Pfizer / BioNTech, followed by Moderna. Nine months after giving birth, Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old Briton, was the first person in the world to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on December 9. In Spain, almost three weeks later, Araceli Hidalgo, 96, was the first to be vaccinated. The light at the end of the tunnel is already visible, in time to say goodbye to 2020.

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