The Economics of Health

The Spanish say, Man is the only animal that trips over the same stone twice, meaning that we make a mistake and then go and make the same mistake again.

GRA Facultad de MedicinaThis is precisely what medical experts feel that politicians will do again, concerning plans to ease Covid restrictions; i.e., commit the same mistake as opening up for Christmas and setting off another wave of infections.

Medical experts are not concerned with the economy; just the toll on human lives and the attrition wrought on the public-health sector. Politicians try to balance health issues with economic ones… and winning the next elections, of course.

So here we are, one year almost to the day, one year down the line from being all shut up in our homes. Since then we’ve seen the “save the summer” policy, which provoked the second wave of infections and then, “save Christmas,” which provoked the third wave.

Thankfully, nobody is seriously trying to float a “save Easter” policy although Semana Santa is big business in Andalucía and the right-wing coalition that runs the Junta is going cross-eyed preventing itself from blurting, “let’s go for it!”

So, all eyes are set on “save summer 2021,” or are they?

According to the Head of the Immunology Department at the University of Granada, Professor Ignacio Molina, if they race to ease off restrictions as they did at Christmas then a fourth wave is most definitely on the cards, but a much more dangerous one as the British strand of the virus, which is much more contagious, has become the prime strand detected in Spain.

The Dean of the Granada College of Doctors, Jorge Fernández Parra, asks for caution as he consider the ideal strategy would be to maintain a series of restrictions to keep infections down, not only to prevent more deaths, but also to be able to get hospitals running along normal lines again; i.e., dealing with other kinds of pathologies.

Herd immunity is a long way off as the vaccination roll out isn’t doing much ‘rolling’ at the moment so depending on vaccinations saving the day come the beginning of summer is a mistake – perhaps for late summer, yes, by which time summer in an economical sense is gearing down.

Whilst the Minister for Public Health at the Junta, Jesús Aguirre, might consider that he can see that we have reached a plateau as far as infections go, some health experts see instead that the virus is holding on, therefore any easing of restrictions must be very gradual.

Let’s face it, as far as Andalucía is concerned, we have just a week ago had a bank-holiday weekend and any repercussions will begin to be felt later this coming week, should there be any.

Is all lost as far as Easter goes, then? No, according to the heads of several hospitals in Granada, interprovincial travel during Easter should be safe, as all the provinces within Andalucía are on the same level, more or less. In other words, it’s a ‘calculated risk’ rather than an ‘unbridled’ one.

In other words, people taking up residence in their second homes and enjoying the beaches is reasonably safe, if they are visiting from other provinces. Yet, these same experts consider that lifting restrictions on bars and restaurants could be a mistake. The logic is being in the open air or in a holiday home is one thing, but quite another is packing bars and restaurants until late in the evening. Nightlife is clearly off the menu for this Easter.

Anyway, Easter is just under three weeks away and between now and then, there are a lot of ‘ifs.’

(News/Editorial: Easter and Summer)

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