Margarita del Val is one of the most authoritative voices to speak about the evolution of the pandemic in Spain, which has registered a total of 3.12 million infected and 66,740 deaths. Doctor in Biochemistry and coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Global Health Platform of the CSIC, her predictions have been fulfilled throughout this last year marked by the coronavirus. Now, In an interview for 20 minutes, he points out when the fourth wave of infections will occur in our country and what it will be like this summer.
The virologist recalled that “As long as there are so many vulnerable people and we lift the measures, there will continue to be waves.” Therefore, he has warned that there will be a fourth wave when the third wave ends, “maybe at the end of March”, so it will coincide in time with Holy Week, celebrated this year between March 28 and April 4. “If we have made plans for Easter, we will not change them, it will continue to be cold and there will be activity indoors, so there will be a wave as strong as this, with many elderly people dying ”, he indicated.
He has been more optimistic about the summer: “We are going to have better time, so the probability of being infected is ten times less. In addition, we will have the much more advanced vaccination campaign and more information about how vaccines work. We will see things differently ”. It should be remembered that, by that time, the Government of Spain plans to have immunized 70% of the population. “With that, at some point we will be able to make vacation plans or not, something that I discard for Easter. It is very premature, ”he adds.
Back to normal
Despite the hope that the situation will improve in summer, the expert has not wanted to venture to predict when normality will return. But she has been very critical of our country’s management of the pandemic: “We have a lot of infected people right now, because we never want to go lower. As soon as the curve flattens, we begin to de-escalate. The choice we have made as a society has been to live on the edge, despite the fact that there are many deaths ”.
In this sense, it has highlighted as a good example of management countries such as New Zealand or Australia, who already safely enjoy a practically normal life thanks to the strict compliance with harsh restrictions, “with a brutal quarantines” during the most aggressive period of COVID-19. “They, unlike us, have opted for health, for the economy”, has regretted. For Del Val, this strategy is “more desirable” and ensures that Spain still has time to change, although he does not see it possible. “We can choose that other strategy at any time, but neither the autonomous communities nor the citizens want it. With this model the economy would suffer less, there would be many fewer deadWe would have a more normal life, but we don’t want to make that sacrifice for another day ”.
Within the return to normality is the question of how long we will have to continue using masks. In this regard, the expert asserts that only “when we know how protected the vulnerable population is, can we begin to see what measures are taken”. However, for that “we still have quite a few months of the vaccination campaign.” “Then, we can start to see, it does not mean that we can stop using it,” he concludes.
Meanwhile, he urges to focus on another aspect just as important as masks: ventilation of interior spaces: “In winter, the greatest source of contagion is the virus that accumulates in the sprays in 10-15 minutes in a poorly ventilated place where there is a person breathing. That we are doing wrong, except in some areas such as teaching and certain companies. In hospitality, for example, the use of CO2 markers is not widespread, so we do not know if it is ventilating well ”.
The effect of vaccination is already noticeable
To achieve this long-awaited normality, vaccines play a fundamental role, as well as developing a correct vaccination campaign. From the expert’s point of view, the strategy followed by Spain, and most of the countries, to vaccinate the elderly and health workers first it is “very adequate”. Furthermore, he argues that the vaccination rate is being the best possible, taking into account the few doses that there are.
Although the rate is not as fast as it would be desirable, Del Val affirms that the effect of vaccination “is already being noticed in nursing homes”, where “fewer outbreaks are detected, because they do not need to diagnose people, since they do not there is disease ”. As a country, we will notice it when 100% of vulnerable people, that is, those at risk of dying from the infection vaccinated, is vaccinated”, He predicts.
How to combat variants
Margarita del Val has stressed on several occasions that the variants should not be a source of burden for the population, speech that has followed during this conversation with 20 minutes. On the one hand, it has recognized that, although vaccines with high efficacy also protect against variants, including the South African, there are also others that “are not working as well.”
But he has also ensured that these variants do not have to delay the return to normality, since the protection measures are the same for all: “If we follow the rules that we already know very well, there is no reason to delay.. The problem is that, in particular, quarantines and isolations must be applied very seriously and that is not being done in Spain ”, he insisted. Along these lines, he highlights that “medical discharge is being discharged too early and companies are not allowing people to save ten days when they are contacted by a positive. It is not registered as sick leave and that is a problem ”because these people can transmit the virus without knowing it.
To avoid this situation, the CSIC virologist proposes “keep quarantine for ten days always, whether or not you have a diagnosis and it is negative or not ”. It also raises the need for parents to have the right to sick leave to care for children who are infected at school or are close contacts of a positive. “If the positives comply perfectly well with isolation and their contacts respect quarantine, with very few people doing a selective confinement, we would be more protected from contagion”, Ditch.