The Conselleria de Salut de Catalunya trusts that vaccines against covid-19 (Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca) protect against serious disease in infections caused by the new variant, omicron. In addition, Salut has opened this Wednesday the vaccination of the third doses for people between 65 and 69 years old, who can make an appointment on the website vaccinacovidsalut.cat , although at the same time the population vaccination points are being reactivated.
“We do not know what the transmission capacity of omicron is. But, if we look at the history of the variants, we see that each variant has been having more transmission capacity. And, although the vaccine has been losing capacity to protect against infection, Yes, it has maintained the capacity to protect against gravity. It seems that we would also go in this regard with the omicron variant, ” Tomàs Pumarola , Head of Microbiology at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital, said this Wednesday .
The Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, has also explained that, although epidemiological indicators are rising in Catalonia, for the moment the pressure for care can be contained. In fact, if in other waves hospitalizations accounted for 10% of all infections, now they account for only 5%. All this thanks to the fact that 85% of Catalans over 12 years of age are vaccinated. “Out of every 20 cases, there is hospitalization,” said Cabezas, who recalled that unvaccinated people over 50 years of age are 6.2 times more likely to enter an ICU than vaccinated ones. There are currently 682 people with covid-19 in Catalan hospitals, while in other waves there have been “2,000 or 3,000”.
Pumarola and Cabezas have participated in the press conference to report on the epidemiological situation together with the director of the Catalan Health Service (CatSalut), Gemma Craywinckel. The omicron variant has “almost more than 30 mutations,” explained Pumarola. “Currently vaccines like Pfizer or Moderna protect against infection by 60%, but 90% from severe disease,” he said.
Craywinckel explained that this Wednesday the vaccination of the booster doses has been opened to people from 65 to 69 years and later, progressively, those from 60 to 65 will be vaccinated. The third doses are already being given to people of over 70 years, to residential users, to those vaccinated with Janssen and the immunosuppressed. They are also putting health and social health personnel. In all cases, booster doses of Moderna or Pfizer are administered indistinctly.
For his part, Craywinckel has warned that the coronavirus is once again entering hospitals (infecting patients and professionals), as it has happened in other waves. “This has an impact that can be very negative both on users and patients, as well as on health professionals. Even so, we will not prohibit the entry of companions into health centers,” he said. The director of CatSalut has explained that, for the moment, there is no “unbridled pressure” in health centers. “We are in a containment phase, not mitigation,” he said.
Catalonia is pending to confirm (although all indications lead to this) if there are remains of the omicron variant in wastewater. In addition, on Friday it will be confirmed whether the two suspected cases with this variant detected at the El Prat airport are confirmed. “There are indications that in some area of Catalonia there is some sample of this variant in wastewater. It must be confirmed,” said Cabezas. “We are also doing epidemiological monitoring of people who have traveled to southern Africa. We are awaiting sequencing, which we will have on Friday,” he added.
Craywinckel has called to ask for the covid-19 certificates in the vaccination centers and avoid going to the CAPs, which are seeing how visits increase due to the rise in infections. From November 22 to 30, in Catalonia two million certificates have been downloaded. And, since this tool was launched last summer, about 11 million.