Minister for the Presidency Mariana Vieira de Silva who believes peak of current wave has passed. Photo: Manuel de Almeida/ Lusa

Covid mixed messaging persists

Experts ‘hang on’ to worst case scenario

The extent of Portugal’s Covid mixed messaging has reached a new level today. 

Yesterday, the Council of Ministers extended the country’s situation of alert for another full month. This came as countries like Germany have decided to open up completely from June 1 – not even asking incoming visitors for proof of vaccination against Covid, or even a negative test. 

Today, ‘experts’ here insist “it is still too early to tell” if the latest wave of infections (the vast majority of them completely benign) has passed. Yet this is precisely what the government assured yesterday.

Minister for the presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva’s words were that no new restrictions were necessary because “analysis of numbers shows that very probably the peak has already passed”.

So, what is the situation? Remember it was only three days ago that a panel of experts predicted “mortality is only going to get worse”.

In this case it really does appear the government has a more realistic handle on the developing picture.

Mathematician Carlos Antunes agrees that the average number of daily deaths (almost exclusively in fully-vaccinated citizens over the ages of 70, if over-80) has reduced for the first time since the start of May; he agrees that mortality is unlikely to increase again BUT he still tells Rádio Renascença that “it is too soon to say the peak has passed”.

What he suggests can be said is that “there is a deceleration, and therefore a staibilisation of the average number of deaths. In average terms we have been for more than a week with between 31 and 33 deaths”, he said. 

This needs to be weighed against the average daily death toll in Portugal (for all causes). This is generally between 250-300 people.

In other words, Covid-19 (whether people are dying with it, or because of it – and in many cases at ages that exceed average life expectancy) is still only an extremely low percentage of daily deaths.