Portugal’s vaccine task force coordinator Naval vice-admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo has announced today that the time limit between the first and second shots of the Pfizer/ Moderna vaccines could be delayed in order to protect as many people as possible.
With vaccine supply issues still a headache, Gouveia e Melo is basically taking a leaf out of the UK’s book. Britain’s vaccination roll-out opted to delay the time between shots weeks ago, again in the interests of protecting as many vulnerable people as possible.
Said the military veteran today: “Concerning the issue of 80% of our elderly over the ages of 80 (to be vaccinated by March, as per EU guidelines) we have a difficult constraint in that the AstraZeneca vaccine cannot be given to people over the age of 65. I am not sure we can attain our objective with the scarcity of vaccines that we have. But the alternative is to extend the period between vaccines, and vaccinate more people…”
Talking to a parliamentary health commission, Gouveia e Melo explained the option is being studied by the DGS health authority and Infarmed (medicines authority).
By extending the time-lag between vaccinations by a further two weeks, the idea would mean that a further 200,000 elderly people could receive their first shots in line with EU guidelines for March.
These first shots give “about 70% protection”, said the vice-admiral. Reinforcing that protection “a week or two later” than originally envisaged will “not bring much variation in the defence process of the person who has already received a first dose”.
“70% protection is better than 0%”, he concluded.