Covid deaths in Portugal’s most senior citizens set to increase in coming weeks

It’s the latest conundrum in a pandemic where everyone is still learning: while the number of new cases in Portugal seems to be falling, deaths in the oldest age group (the over 80s) are increasing, and likely to stay in high numbers for some weeks yet.

This is the conclusion of the latest DGS/ INSA (public health institute) study “monitoring red lines” in the current phase of the pandemic.

The conundrum is that the over-80s are the age-group with the highest percentage of vaccinated individuals, and the lowest rate of incidence when it comes to new infections (around 168 per 100,000 people).

But deaths have been increasing markedly: yesterday’s bulletin, for example, registered 18 deaths in the previous 24-hours.

August began last Sunday with deaths in single figures. Since Tuesday, they have been in double figures (Tuesday’s bulletin actually recorded 19 deaths in 24-hours – the crushing majority in the over-80s).

Meantime a vaccination ‘milestone’ has been passed, in that 70% of the country has now been inoculated with at least one dose of Covid vaccine.

This isn’t enough for ‘herd immunity’ but it is a significant development, and has been achieved two weeks ahead of target, say reports.

As the vaccination rollout continues apace – focused on the September 5 ‘moment’ when 71% of the population should have been fully-vaccinated (click here), news has come through on a newly-discovered side effect of the one-shot Janssen vaccine.

According to EMA, the European Medicines Agency, it can precipitate “an auto-immune disease that leads to the decrease or destruction of platelets in the blood essential to the clotting process.

Administration of the vaccine – advised for men over the ages of 18, and women over the ages of 50 – has also resulted in “various cases of fainting and (people experiencing) tinnitus (ringing in the ears)”.

“In spite of this, EMA maintains unaltered the risk-benefit relationship of the vaccine”, say reports – meaning the benefits (in terms of recipients being less likely to develop Covid-19 seriously, or die from it) outweigh the risks.