At the Infarmed meeting of health experts and politicians on Friday, new measures were put forward to deal with the 5th wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Portugal.
Vaccination was not only crucial to prevent a much worse pandemic scenario in the country, but it continues to be essential to contain the 5th pandemic wave, in which we are already present. But it's not enough.
We're doubling the number of covid-19 cases every 15 days. We have 203 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, with a growing trend in all regions of the country. However, the scenario is less serious than a year ago. And this is due to vaccination.
With high adherence in Portugal, vaccination has prevented 2300 deaths and 200,000 infections since May, concluded Henrique Barros, epidemiologist and researcher at ISPUP (Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto). In addition, it also made it possible to avoid 55,000 days of hospitalisation in intensive care units and 135,000 days of hospitalisation in wards, "freeing up these services" for other patients.
It is also what allows us going forward, in the possible scenario of loss of immunity after a year, to avoid a peak in pressure in the NHS in late January and early February, close to the alert level, which is 255 beds occupied in intensive care units.
To avoid this, noted Baltazar Nunes, " we need to vaccinate practically the entire population eligible for vaccination (aged 65 and over) before the period of highest transmissibility, which is late December ", around Christmas, which is traditionally a reason for more social and family gatherings.
"In this regard, 632,000 people have already taken a booster dose of the vaccine", said Colonel Carlos Penha Gonçalves, head of the coordination nucleus of the vaccination plan. "If adherence rises to 100%, we will have to vaccinate one million people, about 35,000 per day ", he explained
Henrique Barros also advocates vaccinating children, since the group with the highest rate of infection is the group from 0 to 9 years old.
As for non-pharmacological measures, Raquel Duarte, a specialist at the ARS Norte, the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto and the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, warned of the urgent need to immediately reinforce some preventive measures:
► Telecommuting should be preferred whenever possible;
► For access to indoor areas without a mask, a test performed in the last 24 hours must be presented;
► Social meetings with more than 50 people are not recommended;
► An increase should be made on indoor ventilation;
► It is necessary to test those who enter Portugal for up to 48 hours of stay in the country;
► The mandatory mask must be kept indoors and on public transport.
To address the decrease in vaccine effectiveness and the decrease in the perception of risk among the population, action is needed. And “the time to act is now”, says Raquel Duarte.
Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/