Monday, September 20

Dying from the success of the vaccination campaign

With a small delay compared to what was officially planned last May, Spain has completed these days an undoubted success against the coronavirus pandemic: 70% of its population will have already received the vaccine in its full schedule this week, which, according to scientists maintained until now, it would give us as a country herd immunity and the definitive victory over COVID-19.

It was last Monday, May 10, a few hours after the end of the last state of alarm, when the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, made a public commitment that at that time seemed utopian to many, and not only in the opposition: ” We are only 100 days away from achieving group immunity, that is, from achieving 70% of the Spanish population vaccinated and, therefore, immunized, “he announced. The 100 days were completed on August 18, and 70% of the immunized population will predictably be reached this Tuesday, August 31, or this Wednesday, September 1. But the small delay does not obscure the Spanish success: we are in the first world positions in vaccination, both for the full schedule and for the first dose, well ahead of countries that have a great advantage in most positive indicators of all kinds. And now that? Mission accomplished? Not much less. The pandemic is not expired, and relaxing can turn our country into an obvious case of successful death, according to different experts who follow the news of the pandemic in detail.

“If we do not set ourselves new ambitious and transparent objectives soon, the situation will get worse again”, assures Miguel Sebastián. Minister with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, economist, professor at the Complutense University, author of several books, columnist in different media, Sebastián warned of the seriousness of what was coming our way already at the beginning of 2020, long before the WHO began to talk about a pandemic and when almost no one here gave importance to the new disease that emerged in China. “I have always been fascinated by epidemics,” he says. My paternal grandfather, who was a military man, died in the epidemic of the so-called Spanish flu of 1918. My mother died of AIDS in 1987, due to a transfusion in the first years of the epidemic “. With official data from Spain and around the world, Miguel Sebastián has been regularly publishing on his Twitter account and in different media accurate analysis of disease trends, highly illustrative graphics, statistical projections, accelerations and braking – in contagions or in vaccines – country to country … And he has been asking himself questions aloud. “The 32,000 older than 70 years and the 107,000 60-69 who still do not have a single dose are still worrying,” he wrote in a tweet at dawn this Monday. Who are and where are those many tens of thousands of older people who have not yet been protected at all? “We do not know, there is no official data,” he answered the phone. “But we should investigate it to definitively stop the disease in those age groups with so much risk.”

In the municipal elections of 2007, Sebastián headed the list of the PSOE to the City council of Madrid. The number 15 of that candidacy was Pedro Sánchez, who at that time was 35 years old. Sebastián had previously been one of Sánchez’s mentors as an economist, rather than as a politician. Relations between them later soured. Now they have improved, and some of Sebastián’s ideas about fighting the pandemic are heard by Sánchez. “We need new targets against the pandemic,” insists Sebastián. “In business, in sports, in many other areas, things are done better and the guard is not lowered if there are ambitious and transparent objectives. And if there are not, it is reversed.”

The former minister of Zapatero believes that these next few weeks, after the success of the vaccination campaign, many other public debates about the pandemic should be carried out, and that both the scientific community and political leaders have to speak out, and answer questions how are you: What percentage of the population, vaccinated or not, has already passed the disease? Is herd immunity really achieved with 70% of those vaccinated, as has been said so far, or does the delta variant of the disease force us to calculate another percentage? And what is this new percentage and in what timeframe should it be achieved? Will it be necessary to put a third vaccine? To the entire population? When? Should all children be vaccinated now? Should we start donating vaccines en masse to the third world, since truly effective herd immunity in a globalized and hyper-connected world will only be achieved in this way? In the case of Spain, do we start by donating to our southern neighbors, for the Maghreb, or do we do it for Latin America?

Questions and more questions whose answers will be key for us to leave the pandemic behind for good.

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