Ignacio Molina, Miguel Otero-Iglesias & José Pablo Martínez. WP 16/2020 (English version) –
Spain has been one of the countries that has recorded the greatest impact of COVID-19 in the world, both in terms of infections and deaths, over the first half of 2020. The limited knowledge about the nature of the virus, the lack of a homogeneous and reliable counting method in the various countries, and the distinct rates at which the disease unfolded hinder comparisons and prevent the establishment of cast-iron certainties. Even with these reservations, and bearing in mind the information now available, it is possible to postulate certain hypotheses regarding the reasons that account for the severity of the disease’s spread in Spain.
The possible explanatory factors, which are manifold and complex, point to human geography(high population density and the intensity of foreign connections and domestic mobility, particularly as far as Madrid and Barcelona are concerned), demographics (ageing) and cultural habits (sociability and intergenerational cohabitation), but also to failings in the public health system. Notable among these are the lack of preparation and experience concerning pandemics in primary healthcare, hospital shortcomings, malpractice in many old peoples’ homes, less-than-ideal coordination between administrations and the delays in instituting social distancing measures.
The analysis also includes important positive aspects of the Spanish response (social resilience, comparatively strict application of the social distancing measures once they had been decreed, and the creditable performance of the health system outside the major cities), which ended up proving its effectiveness at flattening the infection curve in the second half of spring. The provisional conclusions seek to help in managing the easing of lockdown and to prepare for possible secondary outbreaks of coronavirus and other infections in the future.
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