Fifth wave of coronavirus in Spain registers highest daily fatality rate so far, with 190 deaths added to toll

Meanwhile, other indicators continue to fall, with 14-day incidence now down to 305 and hospitalizations at 7,959 – 371 fewer than Monday

Oriol Güell
The ICU at the Complejo Hospitalario in Navarre, in a file photo from April.Jesús Diges (EFE)

The fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Spain set a new daily high on Tuesday: 190 Covid-19 fatalities were added to the overall death toll. That’s according to the latest Health Ministry report, which was released yesterday. Two weeks after the number of coronavirus patients hit a high for this latest spike in infections, with 2,031 intensive care unit (ICU) patients on August 9, the number of deaths continues to grow.

The week began with a considerable uptick in fatalities compared to the week before, which had already set new highs since May. Eight days ago, Monday’s report – which includes data from the weekend – saw 125 Covid-19 deaths reported, with the figure oscillating between 121 and 144 in the subsequent days. This Monday’s report saw fatalities as high as 201.

Just as the number of deaths is the last indicator that starts to rise with each new wave, as is happening now, it is also the last to start to fall. The first indicator to come down when a wave is subsiding are the new cases, then some days later the hospitalizations, and finally the deaths.

Some indicators suggest that the fifth wave could now be peaking in terms of mortality, or could at least have plateaued

On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported 10,072 new infections, bringing the overall total since the pandemic began above 4.8 million. The 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants fell yet again, this time by 11 points to 305. The number of people hospitalized is also falling, and now stands at 7,959 – 371 fewer than on Monday. Of these, 1,769 are in the ICU, a fall of 70 compared to the day before.

Some indicators suggest that the fifth wave could now be peaking in terms of mortality, or could at least have plateaued and the fatalities being reported now actually took place earlier in the month and have not been notified until now. Another indicator that would suggest this trend is the fall in ICU admissions over the last 15 days.

The other indicator that points in this direction is that of cases “with date of death in the last seven days,” which also includes the daily total. These figures can also be affected by delays in notification, but serve to better reflect the more recent trend. After more than a month of sharp rises, this indicator hit a high on Wednesday with a total of 404 deaths in a week and since then has been oscillating without any major changes – on Tuesday it came in at 367, which is 52 Covid-19 fatalities a day.

Despite the magnitude of these figures, the cost of the fifth wave in terms of lives is far from that seen in the previous ones, thanks to the protection offered by the vaccines. During the first wave, there were weeks when more than 800 daily deaths were registered. During the second, 300 people lost their lives each day during the two weeks closest to the peak, a number that rose as high as 500. Even in the fourth wave, which was the smallest seen until now, 237 people on average died each day during the week with the most fatalities.

More than 7.8 million vaccine doses in storage


According to data released on Tuesday by the Health Ministry, Spain currently has more than 7.8 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in storage, vials that have accumulated due to the fall in the rhythm of the campaign during the vacation season and the mass arrival of new shots, mostly from Pfizer.

The report from the ministry indicates that the day before a total of 347,417 shots were administered – during the months of June and July, that figure exceeded 400,000. The exact number of doses now being held by Spain’s regions is 7,818,000, the highest number since the mass campaign began in December.

There are currently more than five million Pfizer-BioNTech shots on ice, 1.8 million of Moderna, 246,500 of the Oxford-AstraZeneca medication (to be used as the second dose for the 60-69 age group), and 733,507 of the single-shot Janssen.

Since the end of July until now, the rate of vaccinations has fallen principally at the weekends, with around half a million fewer shots administered. This weekend, barely 500,000 doses were registered, compared to an average of 1.2 million during previous months.

According to the latest report, 31,653,643 residents of Spain have the full protection offered by the vaccines, which is 66.7% of the population. Meanwhile, 35,831,729 people have received at least one shot, which is 75%% of the population.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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