Spain finalising a system to monitor Covid-19 as common flu

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Like all viruses, Covid-19 is evolving and whilst it has become more contagious it has become less dangerous. That change has, according to a report in El Pais, led to Spain finalising a system to monitor the Covid-19 virus as a flu.

This news follows calls locally and in the UK to move away from treating the virus as a pandemic, and to look ahead and devise a post-pandemic approach. That means moving away from the current rigorous testing regime to one where only those who show strong symptoms are tested and treated appropriately.

According to the report the Spanish health authorities have been working on this transition for months and are in the process of finalising a plan to gradually abandon the universal surveillance of Covid-19 and move to one called “sentinel.”


The system is apparently already in use for the monitoring of flu, with hospitals and doctors surveyed to understand the spread of the virus and the nature of the complications. That information is used to create strategic interventions.

Apparently, the Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES) and the National Epidemiology Center (CNE) have several meetings scheduled to discuss the change in approach, how and when it will be implemented.

No definite date has been agreed but the current thinking is to implement it before the end of this sixth wave.

Amparo Larrauri, head of the surveillance group for influenza and other respiratory viruses at the CNE said: “Now, given the enormous transmissibility of covid, it is a very great challenge to strictly comply with the universal surveillance protocols, it is becoming impossible.”

“Faced with this new reality, we are working on the transition from universal surveillance to a sentinel of mild acute respiratory infection in primary schools and severe in hospitals. But it cannot be changed overnight. We have international commitments [to notify all cases] and sentinel systems must be consolidated.”

It is understood that much of the work is done with five communities already involved in a pilot in primary schools, and nine in hospitals.

Larrauri said: “The reporting sentinel points must be chosen in a certain way so that they are representative of the population of the monitored territory, so that following the experience we already have in influenza surveillance, we will be able to know the epidemiological evolution and the circulation characteristics of certain virus with a sample of what is happening. With surveillance systems already in place, we would probably be able to have accurate and higher quality information and what is happening could be prevented.”

What will change with the new plan, is not the treatment but the testing and the surveillance. The plan also allows for adjustment in the strategy depending on the extent of the cases and the hospitalisations.

No doubt other countries are either working on their own system or will be eyeing the Spain system to monitor Covid-19, with the growing view that the danger of the virus is waning and that it could be treated as a common flu.

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  1. Should have been treated like that in the first place. If it wasnt for all the unnecessary lockdowns and over testing of people with a test that doesnt work we wouldnt be in this mess in the first place. The pain of the last 2 years was totally unnecessary


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