Portugal's director-general of health announced on Sunday that 85% of the country's population has received at least one dose of a vaccine against Covid-19.
More than 85% of Portugal’s population has received at least one dose of a vaccine against Covid-19, the country’s director-general of health has announced, adding that three response scenarios have been sketched out, depending on how the pandemic develops in the coming months.
“Today is an important day for all of us,” Graça Freitas said in an interview on the SIC Notícias television channel on Sunday. “85% of the Portuguese population has a dose of the vaccine and this is a result of which we should all, as a people, be very proud”
According to Freitas, who is head of the national health authority, the Directorate-General of Health (DGS), “there is always some caution in facing autumn and winter” – seasons that are of “great stress in terms of health” due to the circulation of respiratory viruses. But this year, she stressed, unlike in 2020, most of the population will already be immunised against SARS-CoV-2.
According to Freitas, in a “good scenario” for the coming weeks, the current “stable and decreasing trend” of infections would continue, with the Delta variant remaining the predominant one and the vaccine not losing its effectiveness.
“In the second scenario there may be a slow rise in the number of cases because the vaccine may lose its effect over time, but still without a new variant,” she went on. “It will be a scenario of more cases, probably more mild than severe.”
The “worst-case scenario, which is not out of the question”, she stressed, contemplates the emergence of a new variant of the virus, requiring the adoption of measures in order to limit “a great pressure on the National Health Service and the health system” as happened in previous waves of the pandemic.
About the possibility of administering a third dose to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, Freitas said that the pharmaceutical company Pfizer had recently submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) a request for approval of such a booster jab.
“We will have to wait for the regulator to tell us if yes or no,” she said of the EMA. “In any case, we are doing our homework on two fronts: the scientific one, which is following all the developments, and the logistical one. We continue to acquire vaccines for a scenario where a third dose or booster is needed.”
On dropping the requirement to wear masks in public places outdoors, Freitas recalled that this had been a decision of parliament, but notes that, with 85% of the population now vaccinated, the “circulation of the virus will be much lower.” However, she argued, it would still be necessary to wear a mask outdoors in some exceptional situations, such as in gatherings where it is not possible to maintain a physical distance.
Since March 2020 there have been 17,798 deaths associated with Covid-19 people out of 1,047,047 confirmed cases of infection with the coronavirus that causes it, according to data from the DGS.
The respiratory disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China, and currently with variants identified in countries such as the UK, India, South Africa, Brazil and Peru.