• Jun Park

Why Spain has the highest mortality rate?

Spain started this Monday of the fourth week of social distancing being the country with the most deaths suffered by the coronavirus per capita. With 13,055 deceased, 28 per 100,000 people, it has already surpassed Italy and it is desperately looking for those indicators that the worst sanitary crisis in the last century is about to end, explained the minister Salvador Illa.

The tendency observed in the last week in the emergency room with a drop of those in need of the emergency room has dropped. That good news has been added with the drop of new cases, making the pressure on top of the intensive care units and emergency rooms is decreasing. The 637 new deaths by the Ministry of Sanitation is the smallest number of daily deceased since March 24, and even though this numbers need to be taken with some precaution due to the movement and different paces in other weekends. (All data presented Monday by the Sanitation was from Sunday).

The "aging of the population", with a high proportion of chronic conditions, and the impact of the virus in the residences, are one of the reasons we can explain the high number of deceased in Spain in respect to other countries, assures Pere Godoy, president of Spanish Epidemiology Association. "It's also influenced by the cause of death, because if the virus or because of existing conditions the patient suffered, as it it is not being differentiated in the entire country which affects the comparisons" he adds.

In addition to the reason causes based on demography and registry problem, Jose Maria Martin Moreno, professor of Medicine and Public Health in the University of Valencia adds another assisting factor "It is possible that our early identification had allowed other countries like Germany and Korea, which bet for massive testing and allowed to isolate the infected and cut the infection chains." before that the virus had become more collectively present among the most vulnerable. To that, he adds that in the last years "there is lacking investment" in the public health network.

Very populated zones

Jesus Rodriguez Baño, chief of Infections Diseases in the hospital of Virgen Macarena (Seville), highlights that Spain and Italy had very high transmission rates. "We need more studies, but likely it has to do with the way we relate with each other socially, more physical proximity. And that the zones of Madrid and Catalonia where the most affected zones, coincide with the north of Italy. They are very densely populated zones," he explains.

Regarding the first response to the crisis, Rodriguez Baño confirms "It is true that with more tests and isolation we could have cut the chain of transmission before it had reached those more vulnerable. But I want to be very humble, because in certain ways we made mistakes in the first phase. Now it is easy to see, but this should be a learning experience to study what is that really happened", he adds.

Salvador Illa highlights the relation between diagnostic testing that the government has invested "845 million euros" in three weeks to buy tests, respirators, and masks. "We have found a regular and permanent supply [...] to compliment shopping in the communities", he confirmed.

Illa, which qualified the epidemic of the coronavirus as "the biggest sanitary emergency in 100 years", he defended that the million fast tests distributed by Sanitary for the country "would serve the purpose of a fast scan" which would allowed to be complemented with the more accurate but slower PCR tests. Over the recommendation that the entire population use a mask, the ministry assured that the "national production is being activated", he added: "It is a measure we are studying, it is not yet decided."

Translated from El Pais