The covid certificate is becoming the new tool that more and more autonomous communities – eight, so far – are using to try to stop the sixth wave of the coronavirus. Its technicians and those of the Ministry of Health, however, consider that the measure is not effective against infections. In a report by these specialists who form the Alerts Report of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System, to which EL PAÍS has had access, they list four aspects in favor of requesting this document in public spaces and eight against.
The pros of requesting the covid certificate to enter public establishments are limited, in the opinion of the technicians, to encouraging vaccination, stimulating its need among the population, transmitting the message that there continues to be a risk of infection by the coronavirus, and that it has judicial backing in some communities.
Faced with these arguments, they expose other forceful ones about their various shortcomings when it comes to dealing with infections. First, the report states, “there is no evidence” that this measure has an effect on reducing the transmission of the virus. “In the countries of the European environment where it is being used, the cases are increasing significantly, although it is true that their vaccination coverage is much lower than that of Spain. It is foreseeable that the effect in Spain, with higher coverage, will be even less. It would also be difficult to measure the effectiveness of this measure ”.
The covid certificate does not reflect the immune status of the person who possesses it. “He equates being vaccinated with being immunized and this does not adjust to reality,” explains the presentation, which emphasizes that vaccination very effectively prevents the most serious forms of the disease, but is not so useful when it comes to avoiding contagions. “We know that approximately 40% of those vaccinated are susceptible to becoming infected and transmitting the infection. Therefore, its usefulness in preventing transmission would be very limited and could even have a negative impact if prevention measures were relaxed ”, they affirm.
They are suspicious of the latter and think that the certificate may lead to the relaxation of the measures, especially the use of the mask. In addition, they point out the practical difficulties of starting it up: every time you enter an establishment, you will have to present it along with an identity document.
The report also makes reference to the high vaccination rates in Spain: “Approximately 90% of those over 12 years of age are vaccinated, so the gain in vaccination coverage would not be very important. Studies carried out recently refer to an increase in vaccination coverage mainly in those under 20 who, in our country, have very high coverage, around 84%, therefore, it would not be justified for this purpose “.
The technicians consider that these hedges “would hardly justify the cost and the negative implications” that this measure may have and underline that it should be ensured that it does not generate situations of inequity. In addition, they consider that if the incidence continues to rise – something they see as “very likely” – it is possible that it will end up generating mistrust in public institutions.
With these reasons, the presentation sees more justified the request for this certificate in health and social health centers, both for visits and workers, or in specific areas such as prisons: “This is where there is an important group of vulnerable people.”
The document focuses on taking into account the measures that “have proven to be effective”, such as the mask. Or, if the epidemiological situation worsens, restrictive measures, especially indoors. Cite the capacity, ventilation and time limitations.
These same specialists are the ones who developed the new covid traffic light. In their first versions, they asked to link risk levels with specific limitations: from high risk (which is now marked above 300 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, among other markers) their proposal was to prohibit access to all spaces closed publics. It is something that rejected the instance superior to the presentation, the Public Health Commission, formed by the general directors of this area. It is a more political body than the presentation, which is merely technical, where factors that are not only purely epidemiological are weighed.
Despite the recommendations in this document, dated November 23, eight communities have already imposed the certificate to be able to access public places: Aragon, Murcia, Valencian Community, Navarra, Balearic Islands, Galicia, Basque Country and Catalonia. The Ministry of Health has always been suspicious of this requirement and has left it in the hands of the autonomies. These have needed the approval of their Superior Courts of Justice to start it up and, in the case of the Basque Country, of the Supreme Court.
In the event of the use of the COVID certificate, the report asks the health authorities to assess where it could have a “real utility”, such as those spaces where the use of a mask cannot be guaranteed, or request it at certain alert levels. “If it is decided to apply, it should be done before the December celebrations,” he concludes.
In any case, the reports of the alert presentation are merely informative and have no binding power.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.