Simón defends his management and criticizes the politicization of Covid-19 in Spain in a letter in “The Lancet”


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The director of the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simon, has published together with his team a letter in the magazine ‘The Lancet’ in which he defends the management that has been carried out in Spain against the coronavirus, although he has criticized the politicization of the pandemic.

And, as you recall, the fact that Spain suffered the second wave of coronavirus infections before, compared to other European countries, has generated a series of “critiques” of the public health response that has occurred in Spain.

For this reason, Simón and his collaborators lament in the article that the politicization and an “unfortunate climate of confrontation” that is permeating the different sectors is making effective crisis communication a “challenge” and, moreover, is “probably »Impairing response efforts against Covid-19.

In this sense, the letter recalls that after the first wave of infections, Spain increased its response capacity «considerably», highlighting the implementation of a new “test-trace-isolation” strategy in May.

In addition, it is noted that at the end of June more than 80 percent of patients suspected of having Covid-19 underwent the PCR test within 24 to 48 hours, and 90 percent had their contacts traced. “PCR capabilities were similar to those of other countries and have been further strengthened (with a current national weekly testing rate of 2,563 per 100,000 population), and the public health workforce has tripled,” says Simón and his team.

In the same way, allude to the national seroprevalence study, for which it is estimated that the current detection capacity is 60 to 80 percent of infected people. All strategies and protocols were integrated into a regionally updated and adapted early response plan, which includes provisions to increase epidemiological surveillance, ‘test-trace-isolation’ procedures, strategic reserves, and the capacity to care for the health, among others.

However, Simón recognizes that there are “weaknesses” in the system, such as, for example, the under-financing of Primary Care, public health, research and innovation, as well as bureaucratic procedures and the “little availability” that there is to count on. trained professionals.

External experts

In this regard, Simón and his collaborators say in ‘The Lancet’ that “difficult” decisions are being made, “weighing” the scientific evidence, uncertainties, feasibility and costs. In addition, they point out that they have had external experts who have advised them when making strategic decisions.

«Collaboration between the public health administration and more than 30 scientific societies It has been ongoing since January, and outside experts have advised strategic decisions. There are multiple inter-territorial working groups, from technical to highly political levels, which meet at least once a week, achieving fluid inter-territorial dialogue and coordinated decision-making, ”he said.

In addition, Simón affirms that in Spain there are “comprehensive and transparent” information on the daily monitoring of the epidemic, based on “exhaustive” information on individual cases received daily at the national level by the autonomous communities.

‘Evaluation is a key component to improve the system. Therefore, the intra-action review proposed by WHO has been conducted at the national level (report in progress). The broader evaluations (whose mandate is ongoing) and epidemiological research can further clarify the main factors influencing the progression of the epidemic and the short and long-term changes that are most needed, ”they emphasize in the article.

Finally, Simón and his team warn that in the current scenario, maintaining and further strengthening response capacities are challenges for all the actors involved. “Community participation and effective implementation of control measures must overcome pandemic fatigue,” they say.

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