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Local Daily News 16th November

Experts demand that the Ministry of Health accelerate the vaccination of chronic patients under 60 years of age

Experts in Preventive Medicine and immunologists demand that the Ministry of Health accelerate the vaccination of chronic patients under 60 years of age, which some hospitals and health centres are beginning to call for the booster dose against covid-19 but in others they have not yet started, and in general they are in favour of giving priority to the booster injection in risk groups, which is an average of 50%, rather than extending the new immunisation to all ages.

The second booster dose of covid-19, fourth in total, is indicated, according to the vaccination recommendations of the Ministry of Health, for the adult population aged 60 and over, people with risk conditions, residents in residences of the elderly or people with functional disabilities and health and socio-health personnel who work in primary care, hospitals, nursing homes or care for the disabled. The doses administered are bivalent mRNA vaccines, which provide protection against omicron sub variants of the virus, including BA.4 and BA.5, as well as other previously circulating variants.

The president of the Spanish Society of Preventive Medicine, Rafael Ortí, considers that the pandemic is currently going through a situation of stability after a rise in cases after the summer that he attributes to going back to school and the geographical mobility of the summer holidays “but it was very smooth, without too much incidence of cases and hospital admissions” since patients they see are older people and some risk groups.

For this reason, he believes that giving the booster dose to people over 60 years of age, risk groups, health professionals or nursing home workers is sufficient for now. He is of the opinion that extending vaccination to those under 60 is not a priority in the short term. “We were waiting for the BQ11 variant as we expected another wave and in the face of which the vaccine will do little, but perhaps due to the good weather it has not just stood out. Another thing is to finish vaccinating the risk and older groups, which are at an average of 50%. We have to make a greater effort to focus on them. Also on vulnerable people regardless of age, which we are already calling. As long as there are people to be vaccinated from these groups, we must influence there, which are the ones that really need it.”

Along the same lines, Juan Francisco Navarro, president of the Valencian Society of Preventive Medicine, also believes that rather than putting the booster dose in other segments of the population, people who may be affected by the infection should be inoculated more seriously and that generate fewer antibodies, which are the elderly and chronic, which should be a priority for vaccination of people aged 40, 50 or children.

“The problem is that we have lost momentum with vaccination. Health centres have been left alone, to their fate, to carry out a vaccination that can in no way be quick before the cold arrives. We have also been left alone to the Preventive Medicine services, which we take advantage of to give the vaccine at a certain moment to a patient who comes, but it is an opportunistic vaccination, which in no way manages to reach all the chronic patients in a department of Health”. In this sense, he understands that a double vaccination, covid and flu, has been proposed, without putting the resources for it.

Faced with this situation, Navarro does not see anything clear that vaccination of people under 60 years of age without risk factors is foreseen, a decision that in any case must be taken by the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System.

“The rate of vaccination of very old people, of people over 80, is very slow in health centres, and the Preventive Medicine services do not have the resources to carry out large mass vaccinations by calling chronic patients, which can account for 10 or 15% of the entire population. We are taking advantage of the moment when certain chronic patients come to vaccinate them against covid and flu, but there is no systematic vaccination nor will it be done en masse. We are not going to get there for many months to vaccinate the under 60 without risk factors and it will take many weeks to have those under 60 chronically vaccinated.

The immunologist José Miguel Sempere also questions the extension of the booster dose against covid to other age groups, which he does consider justified for people over 80 years of age, people in residences, immunosuppressed or who are being treated with immunosuppressants. In this case, because the response of these patients is less to the virus and in the elderly because their immunity usually declines faster.

Sempere also considers that before en bloc vaccinating the population between 60 and 79 years old, many of them without risk pathologies that could complicate their health, it would be necessary to discriminate who is more likely to receive the fourth (or second booster) dose, because it may be that they do not need it, or because they have recently been infected with covid-19 and are vaccinated, which generates what is called hybrid immunity, which would protect more than just the vaccine; or because although the antibodies may have lowered, they still have good cellular and memory immunity against the virus.

The immunologist affirms that for the moment the ability to respond to the virus is maintained without the need for hospital admission or in the ICU, and that in any case, when in doubt, there are simple tests to verify the degree of total immunity of a person to whom perhaps does not need to be vaccinated at this time. “You have to vaccinate when it is really necessary and for the moment I consider that it is still too early to apply that second booster dose to the entire population.”

Another thing, he said, is that the situation changes and there is a sudden and widespread drop in neutralising antibodies in the population against any of the new variants that are emerging. But at the moment that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Rojales spent Sunday night with a single police officer to serve 16,000 residents

A single local police officer took over the night shift in Rojales. The agent had to stay at the checkpoint because there were no more troops, in a population of 16,000 inhabitants and 22 square kilometres.

And in a city where the Civil Guard, also very limited in number, can only go when there is an important service linked to Citizen Security.

From the beginning of the shift, both the inspector and the mayor Antonio Pérez (PSOE) himself were aware of the situation. They did not react. The usual thing is that each shift is covered in Rojales -two patrols on the street-.

In this case it was going to be made up of three. One of them had the right to rest due to legal assistance that he was going to carry out the next day and the other was ill.

In Rojales, vacancies of this type cannot be filled since the beginning of this year because the government team has been unable to commit to a black-on-white document to pay extraordinary services in arrears or periodically, as union agents and sources themselves have indicated.

To the point that the mayor gave his word that those extra hours would be paid to try to reinforce the device of the patron saint festivities last summer.

However, the staff, made up of about 40 agents, did not believe in that word, because they had already broken it on other occasions and after feeling cheated for months, according to the same sources.

The only one who performed extraordinary services was the mayor. And he has not collected them to this day. The festivities were “saved” with the presence of the Civil Guard and the contract -plus municipal outlay- for private security. In addition, the staff carries the non-payment of the extension of the 2021 working day, which the City Council is not able to pay either.

Neither the mayor Antonio Pérez (PSOE) nor the Councilor for Security Lourdes López have wanted to comment on this situation.

Farms for solar plants are already trading at 2,000 euros per hectare per year in the Vega Baja

The requests to install photovoltaic plants in the Vega Baja accumulate in the administrations. At this moment, there are 12 projects pending authorization that would occupy 900 hectares – mostly agricultural land. Meanwhile, they offer succulent pre-contracts that represent an economic temptation for the owners of the land, in many cases battered farmers destined to “plant” solar panels instead of citrus and vegetables.

The main motivation that leads them to sign an agreement to transfer their land is to opt for a fixed income without having to be at the expense of uncertainty due to seasonality, low prices at source, escalating costs, constant threats the lack of water, the entry of products from third countries and a long etcetera. Added to all this is the lack of generational relief.

“They promise profitability,” says José Vicente Andreu, president of Asaja Alicante, who states that the leases that are being made are between 1,200 and 2,000 per hectare per year for about 30 years. However, he warns that “they are contracts that do not bind the companies but the owner.”

For example, one of the latest plants is projected on two farms, of about 70 hectares each, which have already signed preliminary rental agreements. The one between Los Montesinos and Algorfa was bought by a builders association with the intention of building a development with a golf course. As the plan was cut short, he continued with the exploitation of the orange and lemon trees that date back more than 40 years. In this case, Andreu points out that in order for it to be competitive, it would have to renew the fruit trees.

However, the one found in San Miguel de Salinas is “a wonderful land with no water supply problems, since it is guaranteed with the Torrevieja and Orihuela Costa treatment plants and also with that from the transfer.” In this sense, he insists that “with the quality of its organic orange and lemon trees, it is much more profitable to exploit it agronomically than with the plates.”

Thus, he emphasises that “from Asaja we are opposed to the use of quality land suitable for agriculture for photovoltaic plants, since it implies a loss of agricultural heritage for the region, where the countryside is intermingled with a historic orchard flanked by azarbes and drains”.

Andreu also cites the projects that are planned in Torremendo and that threaten the environment of Sierra Escalona. Not surprisingly, mega plants, unlike self-consumption or electric cooperatives, are large consumers of land -cheap and with many hours of sun- that threaten crops and traditional uses, assuming a strong impact on “land of great landscape  and cultural value”, he continues, the environment and biodiversity.

In his judgement, “a new manna has come to the field.” The representative of the young farmers laments that “a silent advance of a sea of ​​mirrors” could take place, and stresses that “if solar farms spread like an oil stain, it is a return to speculation.” Thus, he insists that “the obsession of 20 years ago with everything being developable now returns with photovoltaic fields: it is the energy hit”.

However, he clarifies that Asaja is not opposed to the installation of plants, but “within an order”, with “control, planning and orientation of this type of installation in areas with zero agricultural impact”. Areas where, on the other hand, large investments have been made in machinery, irrigation modernization, efficient fertilisation systems, drip irrigation, rafts, pumps…

The value of the contracts varies depending on the proximity of the farm to an electrical substation; that is to say, the point at which the energy produced by the plates must be poured to distribute it in the general network. Because to the hectares occupied by the facilities is added the deployment of kilometre-long high-voltage networks, sometimes with forced expropriation, which, like photovoltaic parks, have a huge environmental impact on the flora and fauna of the areas they cross.

The pandemic widens the wage gap between Alicante and the rest of the country

The pandemic has served to further widen the wage gap that the province has with respect to the rest of the country. Despite the fact that the end of the ERTE and the progressive normalisation of the activity allowed the average income of workers in the province to grow again last year, after the hiatus that occurred at the beginning of the pandemic, the truth is that the evolution has been worse than the national average, which has meant that the difference between what they earn is now greater than in 2019.

This is reflected in the statistics on the Labor Market and Pensions in Tax Sources, which indicates that last year Alicante wage earners earned an average of 3,870 euros less than those of the country as a whole, or what is the same, who earned 17 .9% less. Before the arrival of the coronavirus, that difference was 3,427 euros or 16.6%, according to this study, which the Tax Agency prepares based on the data communicated by companies to apply the withholdings on the payroll of their workers.

In this way, after the setback that occurred in 2020, the average annual income of employed workers in the province reached 17,649 euros last year, 4.4% more than in the previous year and also above the data from 2019, when the average earnings per employee was 17,139 euros. This is good news if it were not because the truth is that these data reflect that, in reality, wage-earners from Alicante have been left somewhat behind in this recovery, since in the same period the income of all Spanish employees went from 20,566 to 21,519 euros , which caused the gap between one and the other to widen.

In fact, Alicante fell three places in the provincial ranking and went from being the tenth last province with the lowest income per worker to being the seventh, only ahead of Jaén (15,190 euros), Huelva (15,296), Badajoz ( 16,195), Almería (16,220), Córdoba (16,670) and Cáceres (16,840).

Although one of the explanations could come from the greater persistence of workers in an ERTE situation -in 2021 a large part of the tourism sector was still affected intermittently by various restrictions-, the truth is that the percentage of workers who throughout the exercise were in this situation in the province at some point, 6.9%, was quite similar to the national, 6.1%, as reflected in the same study. In other words, the increase in the income gap can only be attributed to the fact that wages rose more in other provinces or the new jobs that were created were of better quality.

In this sense, it should be noted that the statistics calculate the average annual income per employee, regardless of whether they worked all year or only for a few months -as occurs in many sectors of the province, such as tourism, nougat or footwear- , or whether they worked part-time or full-time. Hence, the amount is lower than that offered by other sources, such as the National Institute of Statistics, which always reflect average full-time salaries.

This methodology based on real annual income reveals, for example, the high percentage of Alicante residents with really low incomes. Thus, up to 45.9% of all residents in the province who had some type of paid employment last year did not earn the equivalent of the Minimum Interprofessional Salary throughout the year, that is, they earned less than 13,370 euros. And of them around 55% did not even reach 6,700 euros, that is, half of the SMI. A situation that has a lot to do with the different types of precariousness that occur in the province, from the seasonality of many sectors, as already mentioned, to part-time work or the significant weight of the submerged economy, which remains hidden to tax statistics.

Compared to that 45.9% of Alicante who earn less than the equivalent of the annual SMI, another 34.7% earn between one and two times this indicator – that is, between 13,370 and 26,740 euros-; 12% between that amount and 40,110 euros, and only 7.4% of wage earners in the province exceed that figure.

Among the luckiest, the 844 people from Alicante stand out who won more than 130,000 euros last year, 104 more than in 2020.



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