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Spain sees contagion drop, especially in nursing homes

Vaccine drive prioritizing people in senior homes seems to be reducing infections

Alyssa McMurtry   | 15.02.2021
Spain sees contagion drop, especially in nursing homes

OVIEDO, Spain

Spain saw new coronavirus infections continue to drop on Monday, and nursing homes, in particular, are breathing a sigh of relief.

For the first time since the pandemic gripped Spain, senior citizens in nursing homes now have a lower infection rate than people over 65 who live at home, said chief epidemiologist Fernando Simon.

“This is important because we’ve always seen higher infection rates in nursing homes,” he added.

This appears to be the fruit of Spain’s vaccination campaign, which put vaccinating residents and workers at nursing homes as the top priority. The country has now administered 2.5 million vaccine doses, and one out of every 44 people has received the full two doses.

Of those who have received two doses, virtually all live or work in nursing homes or are frontline healthcare workers.

“Since the second week after we started vaccinating, we’ve noticed a much faster drop-off in contagion rates in nursing homes than other groups,” said Simon. “Our hypothesis is that this is due to the vaccine, but other factors could also be contributing.”

This week, parts of Spain will begin vaccinating people older than 80 who do not live in nursing homes.

Across Spain, infections are dropping. This weekend, the Health Ministry reported 30,251 new infections – the lowest weekend surge since late December.

Yet, Simon warned that Spain still has one of Europe’s highest contagion rates. “We are still under a high extreme risk – in terms of colors, we’re dark red. We still need to be careful,” he said.

The number of deaths also fell from last weekend, with another 702 COVID-19 fatalities reported, bringing Spain’s official death toll to a staggering 65,449.

Active COVID-19 hospitalizations also continue to drop, but extremely slowly. After weeks of declining cases, 38% of all the country’s intensive care units remain full of COVID-19 patients.

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