Photo: HUGO DELGADO/LUSA

467 fully-vaccinated people die from Covid-19 since start of Portugal’s vaccination process

“Since the start of the vaccination process in this country, 467 people who were totally vaccinated against the new coronavirus have died, shows a report published on Friday on ‘red lines’ by the national institute of health Dr Ricardo Jorge (INSA). In spite of this, according to the document, the risk of death through Covid infection is two to four times less in people with complete vaccination”.

This is the opening paragraph of a report in ECO online, which goes on to show the latter assertion on questionable ground.

For example, of those 467 deaths, 126 occurred in September, when the fully-vaccinated, says ECO, was equivalent to 58% of the total number of deaths.

“This tranche is superior to the people who died with vaccination incomplete (13 deaths, 6%) and people whose vaccination status was unknown (4), says the report. In other words, more vaccinated people died than non-vaccinated”.

This can easily be explained by the fact that the vaccines lose efficacy over time (click here), particularly in the elderly (click here) – and Portugal has now reached a point where 85% of the country is fully-vaccinated, so there is a far higher risk of people dying (of anything) being fully-vaccinated than non-vaccinated.

But what this report ties into is studies being undertaken in the wider sphere, which are showing how high levels of vaccination don’t seem to be protecting populations from incidences of Covid-19.

Again, this isn’t ‘a shock’: it has been clear for months that the vaccine does not stop transmission or infection.

But a study published only 10 days ago actually cites Portugal as being a clear example of how ‘high levels of vaccination’ are not simply not effective against incidence, they seem to be linked to it.

Says the study submitted to the European Journal of Epidemiology (click here): “”The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.”

In an analysis of the situation currently in the United States :”there also appears to be no significant signaling of COVID-19 cases decreasing with higher percentages of population fully vaccinated”, the study continues.

This too is putting it mildly. The data actually shows that the counties with the highest rates of vaccination have the highest transmission rates; while the counties with the lowest rates of (completed) vaccinations are classified as ‘low transmission’ counties.

In Portugal, again yesterday, another text by ECO reported: “Municipalities with highest risk increase to 22…There are 22 municipalities in the country with a cumulative incidence of Covid-19 above 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. That is three more than last week, according to data published this Friday by the DGS (general directorate of health)”.

In other words, on the day DGS health chief Graça Freitas said Portugal had finally reached the bar of having fully-vaccinated 85% of its population against Covid-19, municipalities where the virus was running above ‘presumed safe’ levels had increased from the week before (when the 85% was still unattained).

“There are now two municipalities where risk (in this case meaning transmission) is now “extremely elevated”: Alvito (near Lisbon) with a 14-day cumulative incidence of 2,391 new cases for 100,000 inhabitants, and Cuba (Alentejo) where incidence is 968 cases.

“On the second highest level of risk, meaning ‘very elevated’, the number of municipalities has doubled, from two to four. They are Alcoutim (Algarve) where transmission is running over 14 days at 674 new cases per 100,000; Arganil (819 new cases), Beja (519) and Ferreira do Alentejo (602 cases)”.

How risk/ transmission continues into October will be key. But according to the study entitled Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States” the way ahead is to rely less on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate Covid-19, and more on “other pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions”.

The study’s final conclusion reads: “In summary, even as efforts should be made to encourage populations to get vaccinated it should be done so with humility and respect. Stigmatizing populations can do more harm than good. Importantly, other non-pharmacological prevention efforts (e.g., the importance of basic public health hygiene with regards to maintaining safe distance or handwashing, promoting better frequent and cheaper forms of testing) needs to be renewed in order to strike the balance of learning to live with COVID-19 in the same manner we continue to live a 100 years later with various seasonal alterations of the 1918 Influenza virus”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com