January has concentrated 20% of the deaths that have occurred throughout the pandemic in the Canary Islands. A total of 278 are the people who have died with or by coronavirus during the last 31 days in the Islands, twice as many as those that occurred in what until now was the month with deaths from the pandemic, January 2021. At that time, 116 people died in the Canary Islands, however, the lethality that had the virus was much larger.
Vaccines have totally changed the pandemic landscape. The lethality of the virus has been reduced by 83% thanks to the fact that most of the population has specific antibodies to combat the virus. However, the huge increase in cases in the last month has caused the death figures to be much higher, despite following the standard case fatality rate.. In the sixth wave of the Canary Islands, 0.24% of the people infected since December 1 have died. In the same period last year, that is, during the third wave, 1.29% of those infected died. The current fatality data coincides with what other countries such as the United Kingdom are registering.
The reasons why the Canary Islands may have reached this point are diverse and require an in-depth multifactorial analysis. Despite this, the epidemiologist Lucas González dares to give some clues about what factors influence, a priori, mortality. Among them is the state of health and the aging of the population, the vaccination status, the characteristics of the virus itself or that there has been a saturation of the health services.
The Canary Islands is not the oldest region in Spain (the average age is 42 years and 7 months, compared to 43 and 6 months for the Spanish average)but it is one of the communities with the worst state of health in all of Spain. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, dating from 2020, only 64.6% of the Canarian population consider their health to be good, this being the lowest figure in all of Spain. Obesity rates in the adult population, far from decreasing, have increased in 2020 and are now around 17.5%. 37.2% of canaries are overweight. Therefore, more than half of canaries are overweight than they shouldone of the most determining risk factors in covid-19.
The omicron variant has been the protagonist of this sixth wave. Its contagion capacity is unmatched, which has caused cases to skyrocket much faster than with Delta or the virus that came out of Wuhan. The latest research carried out in relation to this variant shows that its lethality may be somewhat lower than delta -25% less-, although most of the cases owe their mildness to the vaccination status. As its ability to kill its host is somewhat lower than in the previous variant, omicron's mortality is similar to that of the original strain. Therefore, it would be a mistake to relate its greater lightness to harmlessness.
If this variant has influenced anything, it is in promoting a saturation of health services never before seen in the Canary Islands, not even during these pandemic years. The Canary Islands currently have 720 people admitted to one of its hospitals, of which 627 are on the ward and 93 in the ICU. Thanks to the vaccines, ICUs have been kept at a high level, but lower than at other times of the pandemic. However, it has not prevented some people from requiring hospital health care as a result of the virus, and for this reason, the number of admissions is almost 30% higher than that recorded during the fifth wave. In fact, the Canary Islands is today the community with the second highest hospital occupancy rate in Spain, with Aragon being the first. However, as there are fewer beds, the highest percentage of employed women is greater than that of Aragón, and the highest in Spain, 18.54%.
Vaccination rates may also have played a key role in the death toll. And it is that the Canary Islands are at the vaccination queue in Spain. With 82.5% of canaries over 12 years of age vaccinated, it is the community with the second worst results in the campaign - the first is the Balearic Islands with 81% of its population protected with two doses - and well below the average, which is 90%. This circumstance is repeated in all age groups, since the Archipelago has the lowest rates in Spain regardless of the age of the population. Nor has the third dose caught on among the Canarian population, despite the fact that it has been shown that it can give a boost to the immune response that grows and prevents serious symptoms of the disease, especially in those over 65, in whom, over time, has seen a downgrade in effectiveness. However, to date only 89.4% of those vaccinated over 70 years of age have received the third dose. The figure is somewhat lower in people aged 60 to 69, where the third puncture has only reached 83.6%. In both cases, the Canary Islands are at the bottom of the country.
This month's death data in the Canary Islands has also highlighted the differences with other communities, especially in relation to the lethality that each place shows. Thus, while in the Canary Islands the lethality remains at a figure similar to that of other countries (0.20%), in other communities, such as Madrid, it drops to 0.038%. Hence, the Government of the Canary Islands has asked the Interterritorial Health Council for a "homogeneous criterion" and "consensus mechanisms" among all the communities to account for deaths, as explained by the regional president Ángel Víctor Torres. "We transfer what the health workers who carry the death certificate put in the documents and maintain that they are people who die with covid, even if the death is for another reason, but they have a positive PCR," demanded the Canarian president.