Spain wants to treat coronavirus more like normal flu

by Lorraine Williamson
normal flu

MADRID – Spain comes with a new surveillance system for covid. Furthermore, it is similar to the system used for normal flu. However, a network of health centres and hospitals must analyse how the virus is spreading, without counting each case. 

The Ministry of Health and the Autonomous Communities are discussing a new tracking system this week. Consequently, the system will monitor the coronavirus just like normal flu. This means that extensive reporting on a case-by-case basis is making way for a network of sentinel stations and hospitals. 

Pilot tests 

The government wants to implement the new model once the sixth wave is over. However, five regions have already started a pilot test. The goal is to treat the coronavirus infection as yet another disease, according to the newspaper El País. 

Not necessary to test every suspicious case 

The protocols and restrictions are already becoming less strict, as more people have come into contact with the virus. In addition, vaccines now protect the majority of the population against a serious course of disease after infection. Therefore, according to experts, it is no longer necessary to count every case or test for the slightest symptom. The coronavirus should be approached more like a respiratory disease. 

The Spanish health authorities have been working on this transition for months. That is why they are now finalising the plan to gradually lift the universal monitoring of covid and move to a so-called “sentinel”. 

Sentinel System 

For years, the Sentinel system has been used to track flu cases. This involves combining a group of primary care physicians with hospitals and strategically deploying them to act as witnesses to the virus. 

Using a statistically significant sample obtained, they can then calculate how the disease is spreading. According to the head of the surveillance group for influenza and other respiratory viruses at the National Centre for Epidemiology (CNE), Amparo Larrauri, given the enormous infectivity of the virus, it is now a very great challenge, if not impossible, to get it according to the protocols in place. to follow. 

In fact, protocols have already been relaxed as tests are no longer required for direct contacts of positives when they show no symptoms. 

Treat coronavirus as a new disease 

The debate after the current corona wave should be about how far covid should be treated as a new disease. Furthermore, about how we can live with the virus more naturally. This, while we remain alert to new variants, according to the newspaper El País. 

‘New mutations will not aggravate the situation 

Adolfo García-Sastre, director of the Institute for Global Health and Emerging Pathogens at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, doesn’t believe SARS-CoV-2 mutations will make the situation worse. On the contrary. “The Omicron seems more suitable to multiply in the upper part of the respiratory tract, to the detriment of the lung, giving rise to serious diseases. And given its great transmissibility, there is a higher proportion of people with natural or enhanced immunity, in the case of those who have been vaccinated,” he says. 

According to Iván Sanz, head of the National Flu Centre in Valladolid, covid should normalise over time and be controlled like the rest of respiratory diseases. 

Also read: Spain to scrap testing and isolation in mild corona cases

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