Category Archives: Civio

Translated story: The share of Europe’s territory at high risk of fire has doubled in the last 50 years

Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy come up every year when we talk about major forest fires. You don’t have to look far back to remember catastrophes such as the fire in Rhodes, Greece, last July, that displaced 30,000 people. Or the Pedrógão Grande fire in 2017, in Portugal, that killed 66 people. The Mediterranean is a hot spot for climate change, and a hot spot for forest fires.

An increasing number of European countries are experiencing very high or extreme forest fire risk. This is a new problem for some of them. In recent years, forest fires have also become more severe in central, eastern and northern European countries. 2018 was a particularly bad year for Sweden. Sweden experienced very high fire weather risk, on average, in 49% of its territory that year, and extreme risk, the highest level, in 14% of its territory. This was a record for the last five decades. That same year, a record number of hectares burned across the country, far more than had burned in any year during the previous decade.

Europe now has twice as much territory at very high or extreme fire weather risk as it did in 1971: 40 percent, up from 20 percent. This means that populations that were not previously at high risk – or at all – are now at high risk of enduring a wildfire. This index, the fire weather index, measures the weather conditions that enable a fire to spread. It incorporates humidity, wind, temperature and precipitation, but does not include other very important variables such as vegetation. To know the real fire danger, fire weather risk is only one part: “Part of it depends on the weather, part of it depends on the fuel and its flammability, which also depends on its moisture content,” says Carlo Buontempo, Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

Read more: Translated story: The share of Europe’s territory at high risk of fire has doubled in the last 50 years

If we focus on fire weather alone, both its increase across Europe and in some individual countries suggest that it is becoming increasingly difficult to prevent potential forest fires. In fact, one research study points to the link between this increased risk and climate change. In the Mediterranean basin alone, the number of days with extreme risk has more than doubled in the last 40 years. The OECD report ‘Managing wildfires in the context of climate change’ states that: “Climate change exacerbates wildfire risk. Higher atmospheric temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, dryness of the landscape, and changing wind and lightning patterns have increased the risk of wildfires.”

It is not just that more and more territory with high fire weather risk or that the level of risk has increased over the years. These conditions also occur outside what was the traditional summer fire season. “The duration of the fire weather season, which marks the annual period in which meteorological conditions are conducive to fire, is also on the rise in most areas of the world. On average, the duration of the wildfire season rose by 27% globally between 1979 and 2019”, according to the OECD report. In Catalonia, Spain, wildland firefighters are already observing this change. “It is like a de-seasonalization of the risk, which is no longer only in summer. There is also an increase in the number of [fire-fighting] services distributed throughout the year, also in spring,” says Etel Arilla, deputy inspector of the Forestry Action Group of the Catalan Fire Department (GRAF). In Poland, forest firefighters Przemysław Rembielak and Bartosz Klich tell a similar story: “The fire season is already extended, having been going on since February. With the lack of snow, the low, dry scrubs are burning then, when earlier in February or March there was still snow. Today, as we speak, it is October: two days ago, it was thirty degrees Celsius.”

The risk of wildfire is expanding in Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Germany, Albania and Luxemburg.

There are countries in Europe where very high fire weather risk is rare. Switzerland, Norway, Ireland and Finland have had very little territory under this level of danger since 1971. Others, however, have seen more and more of their population at very high or extreme fire weather riskBulgaria, for example, has reached a level of more than 70% of its territory at very high or higher risk in 2022, compared to 23% fifty years earlier. The same is true for Belgium, France, Germany, Albania and Luxembourg, where the affected territory has risen from below 25% in 1971 to over 50% last year.

It is not only the population affected by this risk that has increased: there are also more days of very high weather risk in some European countries. In Albania, for example, fire weather risk is not only increasing the area it covers, but also its intensity. Central and Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Serbia have had an increasing number of very high risk days over the last 50 years. There is a direct relationship between the increase in fire weather risk in Central Europe and the increase in wildfire activity in recent years, says a European Commission spokesperson. Biologist Ondřej Sedláček, from Charles University in Prague, explains about the situation in the Czech Republic: “There are greater extremes awaiting us. For example, there will be longer droughts, heat waves or stronger winds. The climatic conditions are therefore expected to be more disposed to forest fires”.

According to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC)’s ‘Advance Report on Forest Fires in Europe, Middle East and North Africa 2022’, Romania had its worst year in 2022 in terms of area burned in the last decade, losing about 162,518 hectares to fires, more in proportion to its land area than burned that year in Spain. Most of these wildfires occurred during the month of March.

Very extreme risk occurs mainly in the Mediterranean

Until 2021, the Copernicus fire weather risk index (FWI) contained five categories: low, moderate, high, very high and extreme risk. Since June 2021, Copernicus added an additional level: “very extreme” risk, for FWI values above 70.

The Copernicus data covering 1971 and 2022 show that very extreme risk appeared years ago in parts of the Mediterranean but has been increasing since the turn of the centurySpain, for example, in 2022, broke its own record for the most territory at very extreme risk (55%). The same thing happened in Portugal, with 43% and in Greece in 2021, with 37% of the country at very extreme risk. “The very close link between extreme weather conditions and massive fires is more than evident. Confirmed climate change scenarios are increasingly predicting emergency situations throughout the Mediterranean: more intense and long-lasting heat waves, prolonged droughts and very low relative humidity,” according to a recent report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Spain.

Places outside Spain, Portugal, Greece and southern Italy, hardly ever record very extreme fire weather riskFrance has also suffered from this danger in some years, although in small areas of the country. Ukraine in 2017 and 2018 had, on average, 3 days of very extreme risk in more than 30% of its territory. However, 14 of the 36 countries analysed have never experienced very extreme risk in the last five decades. These include Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Sweden.

In an effort to predict wildfires in Europe, the European Commission in 2022 published a pan-European wildfire risk assessment, taking into account not only weather, but also vegetation and the risk of affecting inhabited areas. It classifies different areas of each country as high or low risk. This tool is especially important given “the potential increase of the risk due to wildfires in the Mediterranean-type climate regions due to climate change,” according to the assessment. In the temperature increase scenarios, the prediction models envisage “a marked increase is predicted of days with high-to-extreme fire danger in the Iberian Peninsula, Turkey, along with part of Greece and the Balkans, part of central and southern Italy, and of France”, according to an earlier, 2020 JRC report. In the worst-case scenario, with an increase of three degrees Celsius, in some areas such as south-eastern Spain there would be an increase of 40 days of high or higher fire weather risk, which could lead to even more devastating fires.


 For this report we have relied on historical fire weather risk index data from the Copernicus Emergency Management Service extracted from the Climate Data Store API on 25 July 2023. We chose to analyse the last 50 years of this index. In total 52 years have been analysed because we decided to start in 1971 to include the entire decade of the 1970s. Although there are data from 2023, we have not analysed them because they do not yet cover the whole year and are not comparable to other whole-year data. We analysed data from continental Europe excluding Russia and certain islands.

We cleaned and analysed the raw data, in NetCDF-4 format (a standard for scientific data exchange), using the R programming language through RStudio together with the packages tidyverse, giscoR and terra. We prototyped the visualisation in Observableand Plot, and finally developed it in Svelte using Javascript, D3 and Arquero.

What is the Fire Weather Index (FWI)?

The FWI is an index for estimating the risk of fire occurrence according to different weather values and is not directly related to intentional fire setting. The FWI starts at 0 and higher values indicate more severe weather conditions. It consists of different components that account for the effects of fuel moisture and wind on fire behaviour and fire spread. The higher the FWI, the more favourable the weather conditions are for triggering a wildfire.

How we have analysed the data

The original data provided by Copernicus have a cell size of 0.25ºx0.25º degrees. For the latitude corresponding to the Iberian Peninsula, the size of each point would be equivalent to 27.8 x 21.4 km (although those located further south would correspond to a larger area, and those further north, to a slightly smaller area), which we have approximated in the map legend to about 25km by 25km.

Once we downloaded the data, we read and grouped them with terra and then converted them into dataframes for analysis. To filter the downloaded data according to the spatial boundaries of Europe and each country we used giscoR maps.

All decisions regarding data analysis followed advice and guidelines from the experts we interviewed for the report.

We decided to focus the analysis on the “very high”, “extreme” and “very extreme” categories. The values for each category are determined by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) of the European Commission. Although the “very extreme” category was introduced in 2021, in this research we have used it retroactively for a better comparison.

To analyse the data for Europe while maintaining the extreme values that occur throughout the territory, we have not averaged all the data but have calculated the percentage of the territory, calculated as the number of affected cells out of the total, for each category. In this way we did not alter the original data, which by their nature are not intended for certain temporal or spatial analyses.

First, we calculated for each day of the year the category of each cell and filtered to keep only those cells that were in categories of interest. We then calculated for each year the number of days on which each cell in the categories of interest. This is the data displayed on the interactive map.

To give an overview of Europe and the different countries in each year, we calculated the percentage of territory spent at least one day in each category and the median number of days in which these cells were in each category. These are the data visualised in the radial graph of percentages.

Once we had performed the calculations for Europe and for each country, we exported them to comma-separated values (.csv) files. You can download the data at Civio Data.

In addition to the data mentioned above, to check the hypotheses of this report, we carried out different interviews with experts and other data analyses. We have not included them all in this report due to their complexity in terms of communication and to avoid burdening the report with excessive data. Among others, we have calculated the increase of extreme values in Europe with respect to the reference period of 1991 to 2020, the seasonality of the data, and the variation of the data by decade.


To develop the interactive visualisations, we explored the data with Observable and Plot, after which we decided to develop our visualizations in Svelte, using Javascript, D3 and Arquero to finish cleaning the data and adapt them to the needs of each plot. For example, with these libraries we obtained maximum values for the scales and filtered the global data to adapt them to each year and province selected.

When users select a province, the cells that make up that region are highlighted. In the case where a cell is part of several provinces, only the one in which the centre of the cell is located within its geographical limits is highlighted.

All graphics have been made with SVG, except the map points, which are in Canvas to optimise performance. For this we have adapted the method used by Der Spiegel in their visualisation of Nobel Prize winners, which can be found in this GitHub repository.

We would like to thank Dominic Royé, PhD in Physical Geography, researcher at the Foundation for Climate Research; Pampa G. Molina, director of Science Media Centre Spain; Francesca Di Giuseppe, manager of ECMWF’s Fire Danger Forecasting service; and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission for their help in producing this report.

This research has been made possible thanks to the European Data Journalism Network (EDJnet).

First published by Civio: [html] [pdf].

Translated story: Transparency delayed is not transparency at all: Italy, Germany and Spain allow slowest replies to public information requests

Public entities in ItalyGermany and Spain have one calendar month to respond to requests for access to public information. They do not even always meet this deadline, which is the longest of the countries examined in a Civio-led investigation by members of the European Data Journalism Network (EDJnet).

At the other extreme is Slovakia, which grants its authorities only eight working days, excluding weekends and public holidays. PolandPortugalCroatia and the Czech Republic, allow almost half a month to respond to requests made through their transparency lawsSlovenia and Greece allow 20 working days, which places them almost at the bottom of the countries analysed.

What the ten European countries surveyed do share is a general lack of compliance with transparency rules. “The law is good. The problem is its implementation,” says Croatian journalist Dijana Pribačić Jurić of H-Alter“We have had cases where, after a lengthy administrative procedure, we received information on our journalistic requests only after two to three years, when they are no longer relevant in a ransljournalistic sense,” adds Toni Gabrić, editor in chief of the same media outlet. The same happens in Spain, Portugal and Greece, according to sources interviewed by Civio.

Read more: Translated story: Transparency delayed is not transparency at all: Italy, Germany and Spain allow slowest replies to public information requests
CountryDeadline for replyIf the information is requested on day 1, the administration should respond…
Slovakia8 working daysBefore the 11th of the same month
Poland14 calendar daysBefore the 15th of the same month
Portugal10 working daysBefore the 15th of the same month
Croatia15 calendar daysBefore the 16th of the same month
Czech Republic15 calendar daysBefore the 16th of the same month
Slovenia20 working daysBefore the 29th of the same month
Greece20 working daysBefore the 29th of the same month
Italy30 calendar daysBefore the 31st of the same month
GermanyOne calendar monthBefore the first day of the following month
EspañaOne calendar monthBefore the first day of the following month

What the ten European countries surveyed do share is a general lack of compliance with transparency rules. “The law is good. The problem is its implementation,” says Croatian journalist Dijana Pribačić Jurić of H-Alter“We have had cases where, after a lengthy administrative procedure, we received information on our journalistic requests only after two to three years, when they are no longer relevant in a journalistic sense,” adds Toni Gabrić, editor in chief of the same media outlet. The same happens in Spain, Portugal and Greece, according to sources interviewed by Civio.

Why the exercise of the right of access to public information (often) fails

Unfortunately, it is not common for access requests to be satisfied within a reasonable period of time, even with a favourable opinion from a transparency council, if it does exist. “If the entity does not provide information or does not reply, the only option is to demand it through administrative litigation. This can take years, even a decade,” says Daniel Kerekes, data journalist at the Slovak organisation Denník N. In Spain, public entities sometimes ignore rulings by the Council for Transparency and Good Governance, which has no sanctioning power.

Box: On trial to defend the right to know

In Spain, Civio has gone to court to defend transparency and the need for public administrations to be accountable. In 2020, Spain’s Supreme Court agreed with Civio and ruled that the right to access public information also applies to information from before the entry into force of Spain’s transparency law. Before that, in 2019, the Supreme Court also upheld an appealby Civio to identify the temporary staff of the Court of Auditors, prioritising the public interest over the protection of personal data. Currently, Civio continues to fight in court to ensure algorithmic transparency and access to public information related to drug prices and sanctions imposed by the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate.

This reality makes it difficult, in practice, to exercise the right to know. In Italy, according to Luca Giunti of the organisation Openpolis, “the procedure has an implicit cost in terms of time and resources (e.g. lawyers who can follow the case)”, which means that a large proportion of citizens do not make requests for access or, if necessary, do not follow up with legal demands.

In Germany, according to Arne Semsrott, spokesperson for FragDenStaat, “the main problems are slow answers and fees; it’s possible for authorities to take up to 500 € per request” if it will take more than a nominal amount of time. Not only that: although the deadline for a decision under federal law is one month, those who request information and do not get it must wait three months to complain. This means that in many cases, the actual time to respond to requests is longer than the four weeks set by law.

As a result, the common trend is that requesters must fight almost constantly to obtain data from public administrations. In addition, authorities can also limit access to public information by restrictions that turn into real barriers. Among the usual exemptions are the right to privacy, economic and commercial interests, or national security. The application of these limits is often uneven, creating uncertainty for requesters. This is the case in Poland, for example: “The reasons for not providing information can be arbitrary,” says editor Urszula Kifer of Frontstory.

Except for Italy and Spain, whose transparency laws are more recent, most of the countries surveyed in this investigation have transparency laws that date back almost a quarter of a century, yet those countries have not resolved the problems with implementing their transparency laws. In other cases, such as in Greece, regulatory gobbledegook hinders the right of access. This is an obstacle for ensuring transparency, despite the fact that, according to the sources consulted, on paper, the regulations marked a turning point in public accountability.

First published by Civio in Spanish and English: [html] [pdf].

Translated story: Europe fights the monkeypox outbreak with unequal defences

The sudden appearance of monkeypox outside its endemic regions, in Central and West Africa, surprised the world. Although it was not the first time the virus had broken out elsewhere, the scale of the current health crisis is unprecedented. From the beginning of May to the middle of July, at least 7,665 cases have been reported in the European Union (EU), according to figures compiled by Civio, which is one thousand more cases than the WHO reportsIt is the largest outbreak of this virus ever seen in Europe, where few countries were well-prepared.

“No one expected transmission within Europe or the United States, without [a patient] having travelled or their partner or friend having travelled,” says Mar Faraco, president of the Spanish Association of Foreign Health Doctors. For the moment, the most affected countries in the EU are Spain (2,895 cases), Germany (1,859), France (912), the Netherlands (549), and Portugal (515), while the United Kingdom, where the first patients of this outbreak were detected, reported 1,856 cases through mid-July.

Monkeypox is caused by a virus similar to the smallpox virus, which the WHO certified eradicated in 1979. However, while smallpox has accompanied our species for centuries, researchers first confirmed transmission of monkeypox among humans in 1970. Since then, this monkeypox has gained ground, although without the tragic consequences of smallpox. “The smallpox virus had a 30%, mortality rate and decimated entire populations,” says Esteban, while the monkeypox mortality rate is between 1% and 10%. According to an initial analysis by researchers at the Carlos III Health Institute, the current outbreak seems to be caused by the less virulent variant.

“[That] cases like this occur, which are appearing in different countries, is very striking,” says virologist Mariano Esteban, of the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC). However, he says the situation “is very different” from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, since there are diagnostic tests, antiviral drugs such as Tecovirimat and, especially, vaccines. However, monkeypox has for years been a neglected disease that affected Africa the most, which explains why many European countries lacked adequate means to control this outbreak.

A vaccine as in-demand as it is limited

The majority of detected cases in this outbreak “have presented with mild to moderate symptoms” and patients generally recover after several weeks. However, to prevent the spread of the disease and to mitigate its severity, European authorities first proposed vaccinating close contacts of a confirmed case within the first four days. In early July, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommended also vaccinating the most at-risk groups – certain groups of men who have sex with men and health care workers.

However, this will be difficult to achieve due to the scarcity of vaccines. One of the options is Imvanex, a third-generation vaccine, which was authorised in Europe against smallpox and, in the United States, where it is called Jynneos, is also authorised for monkeypox. This shot has far fewer side effects than previous vaccines, which explains why Imvanex is the most coveted vaccine.

But there’s a problem: it is only manufactured by a small pharmaceutical company called Bavarian Nordic, which means there is limited availability. Germany ordered 40,000 vaccines in June and 200,000 more for delivery through the end of the year. The European Commission, through the newly created European Authority for Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies (HERA), purchased emergency 109,090 doses. Civio has asked EU and national authorities about the unit price they paid for Imvanex, without receiving an answer.

📍 Country💉 Doses of requested vaccines💶Joint purchase?
Belgium33,040Yes (only 3,040 through HERA and 30,000 doses are received through direct national purchase)
CzechiaUnder deliberationUnder deliberation
LuxembourgSmall but unconfirmed numberYes
Spain10,200-12,200Yes (10,000 – 12,000 through HERA and 200 doses through direct national purchase)
The NetherlandsNoneNo

In Europe, the formula is similar to the one adopted with the COVID-19 pandemic (a joint purchase to secure the supply), although with one exception: this time the payment is via EU funds. Several EU countries told Civio they have requested vaccines from HERA, which prioritises distribution according to the impact of the virus. Thus, for example, Spain, one of the most affected countries, has already announced receipt of 5,300 doses, almost half of the vaccines it has ordered so far.

The belated solution – the first doses arrived weeks after the outbreak began -will alleviate the lack of Imvanex vaccines in many European countries. “Vaccination against monkeypox will be limited to very specific cases, since the transmissibility and risk of the virus are not comparable to COVID,” says Stefan De Keersmaecker, spokesperson for the health area of the European Commission.

Varied but insufficient preparation

Only the Netherlands and France report having had strategic stockpiles of Imvanex vaccines prior to the outbreak. A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Health points out that, in 2019, when monkeypox did not seem like a direct threat, they bought 100,000 doses of Imvanex, almost as many as those now acquired by the EU. The Netherlands has since sold a small number of these vaccines to Denmark and Spain, which had none. French authorities also confirm that their national reserve has doses of Imvanex, along with other first- and second-generation vaccines. Their availability, they explain, is part of the government’s “plan to respond to the risk of the recurrence of smallpox.”

Both countries’ strategies are similar to that of the United States, although with much smaller quantities: in 2012, the Obama administration bought twenty million doses for its national reserve, which this year has expanded with half a million more. Risk planners have always feared that the smallpox, not monkeypox, could be used in a bioterrorist attack. These fears increased after the September 11 attacks, and rose again during one of the first large outbreaks of monkeypox outside Africa, which in 2003 caused 47 confirmed or probable cases in the United States.

These dangers led many countries to include smallpox vaccines in their strategic stockpiles, even if they did not include later generation vaccines such as those of Imvanex. That was the case in Spain, Belgium, Poland, Portugal or Slovakia, whose reserves in some cases include second-generation vaccines such as ACCAM 2000. In Germany and Italy, there are also stocks, but the authorities do not specify the type of vaccine. This lack of transparency is greatest in Ireland, Luxembourg, and Sweden, where the information is confidential for national security reasons.

📍 Country🔒 National strategic reserve💉 Type of vaccine available
BelgiumYesSecond generation vaccines (ACCAM 2000)
FranceYesFirst, second and third generation vaccines (including Imvanex)
ItalyYes5 million unspecified doses
PolandYesSecond generation vaccines (ACCAM 2000)
PortugalYesFirst generation vaccines
 Romania No info available No info available
SpainYes2 million second-generation doses (ACCAM 2000)
The NetherlandsYesFirst and third generation vaccines (including Imvanex)

At the other end of Europe are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, and Slovenia, which report that they did not stockpile smallpox vaccines. In contrast, the World Health Organization (WHO) holds an emergency reserve of 2.4 million doses in Geneva and another 31 million vaccines stored in France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Its stockpile includes Imvanex units and first- and second-generation vaccines, although, for the moment, the WHO does not know how much there is of each, says Sylvie Brand, WHO director of preparedness for global risks of infectious origin.

A prophecy fulfilled

This monkeypox outbreak was a surprise, but it was by no means unexpected. Public health workers feared that when smallpox was eradicated and mass immunisation campaigns ended, similar viruses would infect people who lacked protection. In fact, an observational study conducted in the 1980s in present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo estimated that smallpox vaccination offered 85% protection against monkeypox. However, when smallpox disappeared, the WHO recommended countries stop immunising due to the vaccines’ side effects and the significant costs of immunisation programmes.

However, the same study also warned that: “The average magnitude and duration of monkeypox epidemics will increase as vaccine-derived protection decreases in the population.” That first warning didn’t fall on deaf ears. Another study, published in 2012 in the journal PNAS, and a recent systematic review in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases also voiced growing concern about a potential increase in cases of monkeypox. Those prophecies have finally been fulfilled.

In Europe, where most countries stopped vaccinating against monkeypox between the 1970s and 1980s, a large number of people are now vulnerable to the virus. “The population is susceptible; most of them are under the age of 50. And that means they are a great host for the virus, with no resistance whatsoever,” says virologist Mariano Esteban. “It is the opposite of the usual case,” Faraco says, “It is a disease in which older people will be better protected than younger people.”

📍 Country❌ End of vaccination against smallpox📂 Source
Austria1977Wiener klinische Wochenschrift
Belgium1976FPS Public Health
Bulgaria1980Ministry of Health
Cyprus1975Ministry of Health
Czechia1980Ministry of Health
Estona1980Health Board
Finland1980Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
France1978Ministry of Health
Germany1976 (Western), 1982 (Eastern)Federal Ministry of Health
Ireland1972National Vaccination Office
Italy1976Journal of General Virology
Latvia1980Ministry of Health
Luxembourg1976Ministry of Health
Poland1980Ministry of Health
Portugal1977Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon
Romania1977Ministry of Health
Slovakia1977Ministry of Health
Slovenia1980National Institute of Public Health
Spain1980Ministry of Health
Sweden1976Ministry of Health and Social Affairs
The Netherlands1974Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport

Data published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control(ECDC) confirm this pattern. Of the 6,776 cases analysed up to the middle of July, 89.51%% were under 50 years old. “That implies that those of us who are vaccinated against smallpox must be protected, but we don’t know that for sure yet,” Esteban explains. The reason is that the old vaccines were “very good, with significant side effects, but they eradicated smallpox,” Faraco says. Although no one has faced a real outbreak of smallpox since, health care workers hope that the vaccines will continue to provide long-lasting immunity.

Africa is, as always, the forgotten land

The outbreak caused by this forgotten virus also offers another important lesson. For years, monkeypox seemed to affect only the African countries where it is most frequently transmitted, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria or Cameroon. “It is important to help in the territories where these pathogens are found, improving prophylactic measures, looking for vaccines and effective treatments,” says Jacob Lorenzo-Morales, professor of Parasitology at the University of La Laguna and director of the University Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health of the Canary Islands, in statements to the Science Media Centre España.

“When it jumps to the most advanced countries it provokes a social alarm, the result of the panic of society, which thinks that viruses happen to others, that they are in the jungle or in other environments, and that we are exempt from it,” Esteban says. Since 2022, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Africa has documented 1,715 cases, among suspected and confirmed patients, and 73 deaths from this virus. “Except when [an infected] traveller has left those countries, no one has cared about cases there,” Faraco says. The best strategy would be to monitor monkeypox where it remains endemic, which would help curb infections and deaths in those places, and prevent its impact on other regions, he says: “It would probably fix a lot of the outbreaks, but it hasn’t been done.”


In the report, David Cabo contributed to the review of public procurement data. In addition, this work is the result of an EDJNET investigation involving journalists from four countries of the EU. Danuta Pawłowska of the Gazeta Wyborcza reviewed Polish data; Alessandro Follis of Euractiv Italy reviewed Italian data; Neja Berger of Pod črto reviewed Slovenian data; and Tiago Ramalho of Public reviewed Portuguese data.

We contacted national public health authorities in all EU member states to request the date when each country stopped immunising against smallpox and when this type of vaccination was no longer compulsory to travel there. Since at that time some current EU countries were part of the USSR, we asked the authorities about the situation of the territory that makes up their country today. In Austria, Italy, and Portugal, the information comes from various specialised sources, and we did not find data for Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, and Malta.

We also asked whether, prior to the current health crisis, strategic stocks of smallpox vaccines were available and the number of doses and the type of vaccine. The health authorities of Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, and Malta did not reply to multiple requests.

In addition, we contacted the press offices of the European Commission, Bavarian Nordic and the World Health Organization (WHO) to learn more about the joint purchase of vaccines and the strategic storage of smallpox vaccines for emergencies. We also asked the EU countries about the number of doses requested through HERA procurement and the immunisation protocols established to control the current outbreak. We searched the Public Procurement Portal in Spain and asked the Ministry of Health about the 200 vaccines purchased at the beginning of June, prior to the arrival of Imvanex units through HERA, but we have not received an answer. No European or national authority has shared the unit price of vaccines, citing confidentiality agreements with Bavarian Nordic.

Finally, we compiled case data published by the World Health Organisation through the dissemination of Disease Outbreak News (DONs) and looked at the data regularly released by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since national authorities update their figures more often, the cases collected by Civio originate in most countries from state institutions (Austria, Bulgaria, FranceGermanyIrelandItalyLatviaLuxembourgThe NetherlandsPortugal, Romania, SlovakiaSloveniaSweden, and the United Kingdom), except in those countries that do not publish their epidemiological statistics or bulletins or where their data are outdated, in which case the information comes from the WHO, which provides the most up-to-date figures.

In the case of Spain, data come from national or regional health authorities (AragónCastilla-La ManchaCataluña, and Comunidad de Madrid).

The data do not have the same frequency and date of publication, so they are not directly comparable. You can download the data here.

First published by Civio: [html] [pdf]. Spanish original: [html].

Translated story: The suicide rate among people in pretrial detention is double that of convicted prisoners

“There is much sorrow in prison, disguised as hostility. The sorrow is plainly visible even in the most angry faces.” This message was posted on John McAfee’s personal Twitter account last June. Thirteen days later, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software died in his cell in the Barcelona prison Brians 2, where he had spent eight months in pretrial detention, pending rulings on extradition to the United States on charges of tax evasion and non-payment. McAfee left a note: “Instead of fully living it. I want to control my future, which doesn’t exist.” The autopsy declared his cause of death to be suicide.

In 2020, according to the Council of Europe’s SPACE study (see methodology), 480 people committed suicide in EU member state prisons, of which 172 were in pretrial detentionThese people were either awaiting trial or pending the outcome of their appeal; they had not been convicted of any crime. Entering prison, especially before trial, correlates with a higher risk of suicide: in 2020, there were 17.5 suicides per 10,000 people in pretrial detention, double the 8.54 suicides per 10,000 people in the rest of the prison population.

Continue reading Translated story: The suicide rate among people in pretrial detention is double that of convicted prisoners