President hails ‘enviable’ world-beating Covid-19 vaccine coverage

  • Lusa
  • 16 September 2021

Portugal is now the country in the world with the highest rate of population coverage with the complete vaccination against Covid-19, according to the statistics website Our World in Data.

The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has hailed the country’s “enviable” rate of coverage with vaccination against Covid-19 – currently the highest in the world with almost 82% of the population fully inoculated – noting that this was allowing “the beginning of change” after months of lockdowns, curfews and other restrictions.

“There were heads of state who themselves talked about their situations, saying they fell short of what they would like, and our situation is enviable,” de Sousa told Portuguese journalists in Rome after meeting 14 other presidents of EU member states at the 16th Arraiolos Group meeting of non-executive heads of state.

“Even countries with very high rates of vaccination – I give the example of Austria – spoke of percentages much lower than ours and others did not even speak because the percentage was much lower and everyone asked: ‘but how is it possible that Portugal has been, apparently, seen from the outside, so bad and now is so well’,” de Sousa recounted, referring to the fact that Portugal in late January and early February had the world’s highest rates of coronavirus infections and deaths associated with Covid-19.

De Sousa added that, although the figures “are relative”, there is “one thing that is not relative, which is that vaccination has made a difference.

“From the moment that mass vaccination came in, it was also mass vaccination that started the change,” the president told members of Portugal’s media after the Arraiolos Group meeting – an initiative founded by Jorge Sampaio, the former president of Portugal who died last week.

Portugal is now the country in the world with the highest rate of population coverage with the complete vaccination against Covid-19, according to the statistics website Our World in Data.

In recent days, the country has overtaken Malta to register 81.54% of its population fully vaccinated against the infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Malta has 80.95% of the population fully immunised against Covid-19, with the United Arab Emirates third in the world ranking, at 78.80%.

However, if data from the population with incomplete immunisation is included, Portugal falls to second place worldwide, with 5.40% of its population with partial vaccination, bringing total vaccination coverage (first and second doses) to 86.94%; in first place is the United Arab Emirates, which, in addition to the 78.80% of the population fully protected against Covid-19, has 11.09% of its inhabitants with partial vaccination, which makes a total vaccination coverage of 89.89%. On this count, Malta ranks third, with a total population with at least one dose of 81.11%.

According to the weekly vaccination report from Portugal’s Directorate-General of Health (DGS), 80% of the Portuguese population, equivalent to over 8.2 million people, have already completed the vaccination process against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and 85%, over 8.8 million, have already received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The taskforce that is coordinating the logistics of vaccination estimates that in the last week of this month the goal of ensuring that 85% of Portugal’s population is fully vaccinated will be achieved.

In Portugal, since March 2020, there have been 17,882 deaths associated with Covid-19 and 1,058,347 confirmed cases of infection, according to data from the DGS.

Worldwide, Covid-19 has caused at least 4,646,416 deaths, out of more than 225.72 million infections by the novel coronavirus that causes it since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest tally from Agence France-Presse.

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.