From the “very low” risk that Simón predicted to déjà vu in China, three years from the day we met Covid-19

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it was a friday January 24, 2020 y Fernando Simon appeared for the first time before the media to report on the “novel coronavirus” which was spreading in China. At that time, there were already cases under study in Spain, hence the concern, but chaos and skepticism prevailed from the Ministry of Health, represented by the director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES).

The maelstrom and improvisation were palpable. It was organized a simple butt in which the media had to crowd and kneel around the expert to be able to collect his statements. Simón himself stressed that there were no reasons for such a media impact.

“From a technical point of view, let me put it this way, we believe that We cannot find the reasons why this media impact is taking place in our country», pointed out the director of the CCAES before the success of the call.

In this same appearance, ‘after the fact’, key errors that the Spanish and European authorities had in the face of the advance of the virus were observed. The most serious was trusting the data provided by China. “Until now all the cases confirmed by the Chinese government, all of them, have been in Wuhan,” Simón assured to justify that it was not necessary to implement controls at the airports, since Spain did not have direct flights with that city. «In Spain we have considered that actions at airportsnot having direct flights, It is meaningless», he declared.

“Knowing that the transmissibility from a case is low, a very reduced transmissibility can be produced”

Fernando Simon

Director del CCAES

Confidence in China was so great that the epidemiologist insisted several times that “the fact that The fact that there are cases in other provinces of China does not imply that there is transmission in those provinces or that there is a risk of exportation. Today, however, we know that if there are infected in several areas, the probability of community transmission of the virus is quite high.

Specifically, the report released by the Ministry of Health on January 24, 2020 pointed out that the number of Chinese administrative areas where there were cases confirmed amounted to 29 out of 33 that make up the country. As for the cases, 842 had already been confirmed, 830 in China and 12 in other countries: 4 in Thailand, 2 in Japan and Vietnam, and 1 in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and the United States.

With this erroneous information, not only was poor control performed, but the contagion capacity of Covid-19 and its lethality were underestimated. Simón himself assured on January 24, 2020 that the coronavirus was “a disease with relatively low transmission characteristics.” «It does not transmit very wellonly the passengers who are in the two seats around each case would have to be followed up, “he explained when asked by journalists about the protocol on flights.

With everything, Simón did not see “very likely” that the new coronavirus was imported into Spain. “It is not impossible that potentially infected people come, but certainly the number is not high enough to think that there will be a significant importation of cases. Knowing that the transmissibility from a case is low, you can produce a very low transmissibility,” he said.

“The population must have a very low level of risk perception”

Fernando Simon

Director del CCAES

The protocol at that time only contemplated as suspected cases to a person with symptoms of the disease and who came from Wuhan. “There is no need to worry about the people coming from Wuhan. If they are sick, they simply have to try not to contact other healthy people and go to their health services properly, quickly, explaining that they come from Wuhan. And apart from that, there is not much else to do right now at the national level, “Simón went on to say.

The director of the CCAES insisted that the level of concern should be low, but active. «The population, right now, I think it has to have a risk perception level even very low». In addition, according to him, in the face of “any symptomatology, the highest probability and by far, even coming from Wuhan, is that it is a flu condition. It is easier to have flu in Wuhan than to have coronavirus in Wuhan according to the information we have.”

Already seen from China

Now, on January 24, 2023, after losing 117,759 lives to Covid-19 in Spain, it seems that we have learned something. Proof of this is the demand for “reliable” data of the new wave of infections in China by the WHO and the measures that have been taken from the origin to prevent the pandemic from hitting again.

And it is that, after weeks of offering doubtful data, China has admitted that 60,000 people have died in this latest outbreak in the country. This figure corresponds only to 32 days (from December 8 to January 12), as reported by the Chinese National Health Commission.

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