COVID-19 : A single day without deaths since the pandemic began

Ten months have passed since the country began to keep a record of deaths caused by the coronavirus in Spain and, since then, it has not stopped adding new victims.

So far, Health has recorded more than 56,000 deaths, and excess mortality indicators, such as the MoMo of the Carlos III Health Institute and the INE’s estimate of deaths, place this figure above 75,000 and 84,000, respectively.

In all this time, there has only been one day in which the pandemic has given truce. July 5 has been the only day of the last 330 days in which Health has not recorded any death, according to the consolidated data of the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII).

The first death from SARS-CoV-2 in Spain was registered on February 13, 2020 at the Arnau Vilanova Hospital in Valencia, but it was not until March 3 that deaths have increased without interruption except for July 5. Since then, Spain has had an average of 170 deaths per day.

A peak of 913 deaths from coronavirus in Spain in one day

On March 30, in the middle of the first wave, the highest peak of the pandemic was reached. That day, 913 deaths were recorded, the maximum reached up to that moment. As of that date, the figure began to decline until it reached zero two months later.

In order to be able to count the death, the ISCIII explains in its methodology that it is necessary to positive result of a PCR test or antigen test that prove that they died with a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19, according to the case definitions in force at all times. This requirement means that suspected cases are not included in this series, such as the three deaths in hospitals notified by the Community of Madrid in its daily report on the coronavirus published on July 6.

In turn, the change in definitions and the delay in receiving and uploading some data has meant that daily reports do not always reflect all cases. This has caused other organizations that take the data from the daily report to count more days with zero deaths, as opposed to what the consolidated data reflects.

Sánchez’s mistake

“Today, we have zero deaths, ladies and gentlemen, in our country as a consequence of COVID,” said the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, during the plenary session of June 3 in Congress. The day before, the Health report had stopped at 27,127 deaths, with no increase compared to the previous day.

But the data of the autonomous communities contradict it. Actually, that day there were 38 deaths, as the ISCIII collects in the statistics with the corrected data that shows the delay in data loading.

It was not the first day that deaths from coronavirus were not added to the Health report. On May 31, the count rose to 27,127 deaths, a figure that remained fixed for three days, until June 3 when, hours after the words of the President of the Government, the report published by the Ministry of Health added a new deceased in Spain due to COVID-19.

But these figures were not due to the fact that no one in Spain was dying from the coronavirus. Since the previous week the report prepared by the Ministry of Health added an asterisk in the death figures, specifying that “an individualized validation of the cases is being carried out, so there may be discrepancies with respect to the aggregate notification of previous days”.

A day with negative deaths

On May 25, the information offered by the Ministry of Health in its report also changed. From that report, the number of deceased with death date in the last seven days was offered, while the previous documents offered the number of new deceased. Thus, the national count of deaths fell from 28,752 deaths on May 24 to 26,834 the following day.

This format change also brought with it a new asterisk, which arrived on May 27. In this new asterisk it warned that “a validation of the deceased cases was being carried out that will allow correcting the historical series that will be updated weekly. Only the cases in which the date of death is the previous day are added to the total on a daily basis at the time of preparing this report ”.

Those two asterisks summarize one of the biggest problems that there has been with the Health data on the pandemic, and especially in those weeks. The revision of the data caused that only the data of deaths the previous day were added to the report, which, due to the delay in the notification of some communities, meant that no new deaths were counted.

But, as the data show, the same day that Sánchez stated that there were no deaths in Spain, the report of the Ministry of Health added a new deceased to its registry. And, later, the consolidated data of the ISCIII show that that day there were 38 deaths from coronavirus in Spain.