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The Government will continue to emphasise vaccination and prevention as key vectors against COVID-19

Tuesday 23 November 2021

The Minister for Health, Carolina Darias, has defended the need to continue focusing on vaccination and prevention as key vectors for tackling COVID-19.

This was stated in an appearance before the media in which, together with the Secretary of State for Health, Silvia Calzón, she gave an account of the main data on the epidemiological situation and the development of the COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign in our country.

As the minister explained, vaccination has had a direct effect on reducing the severity of infections and on hospitalisations, ICU occupancy and deaths.

For example, yesterday, with a cumulative incidence of 132 cases per 100,000 inhabitants at 14 days and a fully vaccinated rate close to 90%, there was a hospital bed occupancy rate of 5% and 2% of ICU beds.

This contrasts with the situation on 11 March 2021, when, with the same IR (132 cases) but with only 4% full vaccination, hospital occupancy was 22% and 7% for ICU beds.

The Minister for Health reiterated the need to continue vaccinating those people who have not yet been vaccinated and to continue to make progress, through the regional governments and cities, in the administration of booster doses for the groups that have been included in the Strategy.

"The shared objective of this Ministry with the regional governments is to make the greatest possible progress in vaccination with booster doses for those people who are most vulnerable," said Darias, who reiterated the importance of the regional governments continuing to work and intensify this task.

She also emphasised prevention as "the best ally" to keep the virus at bay, with the measures of the culture of protection that "we all know and that we must continue with"; that is, the use of masks, hand washing, social distancing, avoiding crowds and ventilation of indoor spaces.

New indicators

For her part, the Secretary of State for Health, Silvia Calzón, announced the inclusion - every Thursday, in the Integrated Vaccination Management report(GIV) - of new tables in which the incidence of COVID-19 in vaccinated people can be observed in comparison with the unvaccinated population, as "it is essential to highlight the effect of vaccines", not only in infections, but also in terms of serious infections, hospitalisations and deaths.

In this sense, the Secretary of State has advocated the need to continue providing information to encourage people who have not yet been vaccinated to do so.

As the Secretary of State for Health explained, in the last eight weeks and up to 14 November, the cumulative incidence in fully vaccinated people is much lower than in those who are not vaccinated.

Thus, among vaccinated 60-80 year olds, the risk of infection decreases 8-fold, while they have an 18-fold lower risk of hospitalisation and a 25-fold lower risk of dying from the disease.

The tables will give the infection rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated people by age group. Thus, for example, among vaccinated 60-69 year olds, the IR stands at 23, while among the unvaccinated, the Incident Rate rises to 181 cases per 100,000.

In terms of hospitalisations and ICU, while the rate in vaccinated persons aged 30-59 years is 0.4 per 100,000 vaccinated people; the rate among unvaccinated people is 3.9 in the same period.

The death rate among vaccinated people aged 60-79 years is 0.1, while it is 25 times higher among unvaccinated people.

Epidemiological situation

As explained by the Secretary of State for Health, after 12 weeks of decline, the Incidence Rate has undergone a slight increase in the last month, reaching more than 139 cases per 100,000 inhabitants today, at 14 days; an IR which, as she explained, is more prevalent in unvaccinated people and people aged between 40 and 49.

However, she has qualified that the reflection of this incidence in the levels of hospitalisations does not resemble that of previous waves, with a lower overload of the care system in general, with a rate of 2.4% hospitalisations and 5.97% in the case of ICUs.

Additional doses to people aged 60-69

On the other hand, the Minister for Health has valued the inclusion, approved today by the Public Health Commission, of people between 60 and 69 and health and socio-health personnel among the groups to whom an additional dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 will be administered.

"We think it is a very important step, to protect these people individually, but also collectively, because by protecting health workers we are not only protecting them, but also the collective environment in which they work", Darias defended.

At this point, she acknowledged the "great effort" being made by the Regional Governments to promote vaccination booster doses, which currently exceeds 50% of people over 70 years of age with this additional dose.

Non official translation