Ángel Gil de Miguel (Madrid, 61 years old) is Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Rey Juan Carlos University. In his opinion, there is some over-action in some measures that are being taken in the world against the Covid-19.
Question. Do you think it is possible to control the coronavirus or that it is too late?
Reply. In Spain we will have more cases, that is clear. But we have a robust health system that can assume a situation like this without any problem. Another thing is that we are a little out of control and panic has been generated. We cannot prevent cases and at any given time someone can die. But the magnitude of the problem, as we see it today, will not be different from a conventional flu. It doesn’t go further and people don’t have to get overwhelmed or worry anymore. But all the economic repercussions also worry. Although we say that there is no problem, that it is controlled and that the ministry is doing things well, if important events are canceled, trips, populations are isolated, it is very difficult for this message to be sealed.
P. Are measures like these advisable?
R. Isolating populations seems somewhat exaggerated. We must give good information to the population, that people do like this person who has been badly coming from risk areas, has called the emergency department and has come to his home.
P. And the Isolation of a thousand people in Tenerife?
R. I think it’s exaggerated. You also have to put yourself in the situation of what to do with 1,000 people. Simply maybe at a given time without having to isolate you can see who has symptoms and who doesn’t, do quick tests to rule out cases. Try not to generate so much alarm. Spanish hospitals have resources to handle cases. Fortunately, the flu epidemic is falling, it would be as if it remained a little longer, but the way of acting is exactly the same.
P. But this disease seems more lethal than the flu.
R. Last year in Spain there were 6,300 deaths attributable to the flu and by Covid-19 we now have 3,000 worldwide. But most are of advanced age with associated chronic diseases. That is why I say that it is the same behavior. Who do we get the flu from? To the most vulnerable: elderly and those with chronic diseases. Where the disease is serious and where pneumonia is established, which is where it leads to admission, is like the flu. In Spain last year there were almost half a million cases and just over 30,000 hospitalizations, but 90% of older people with chronic diseases. This behaves more or less the same.
P. Has Covid-19 come to stay?
R. We also saw diseases such as SARS and MERS … they are coronaviruses that can mutate and jump from animals to humans. Every time we will see it more and we have to be very cautious with extreme sanitary hygienic measures, which in Spain are very good. These coronaviruses have been there, maybe what we have to think is that it can happen again and that the search for vaccines does not have to be in a crisis like this, it should never stop. Because when it comes we will have passed this outbreak. We will need for the next. It is necessary to continue investigating to be able to cut an outbreak if it arises again.
P. In Italy they have canceled some football matches. If the virus continues to expand in Spain, will similar measures be taken?
R. What we have to convey to the population is tranquility. And if I find a compatible symptomatology, it is best not to suspend the game, but to stay at home. If we start canceling events, the economy is going to annoy us. That said, so far all the protocols of the ministry have been good, the information through the service of alerts and emergencies, with a single spokesperson who is communicating very well. We must convey that we have to be alert to what happens, but that there is no alarm. Because panic is never good to handle these crises.