Just in case anyone thought masks were going out of fashion... photo: Paulo Novais/ Lusa

Covid mortality “going to get worse”, warn specialists

Portugal currently leads world in terms of numbers dying from Covid

Deaths from Covid-19 are expected to rise in Portugal over the next 30 days, a report by the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) has warned – recommending the wearing of a mask “whenever there is a risk of contagion”, writes Lusa.

“Daily deaths on a seven-day rolling average have risen from 20.3 to 30.3 since 16 May, a 50% rise that will become more pronounced in the coming days”, says the risk analysis prepared by the IST working group following “the evolution of the pandemic in Portugal”. 

The document (produced by Henrique Oliveira, Pedro Amaral, José Rui Figueira and Ana Serro) also says that, with data from May 22, the Pandemic Assessment Indicator (PAI) at 84 points, is now above “alarm level”, and “may reach 90 points, taking into account the forecasts of hospitalisations”.

Explains Lusa, “PAI combines the incidence, transmissibility, lethality and hospitalisation in wards and intensive care, presenting two thresholds: alarm level when it reaches 80 points and critical level when it reaches 100 points”.

According to IST specialists, the transmissibility index (Rt) – which estimates the number of secondary cases of infection resulting from each person carrying the virus – is at 1.13, when on 9 May, it was 1.17.

“We advise reinforcing monitoring and passing the message that the pandemic danger is not over yet. We recommend using masks whenever the risk of contagion may exist,” says the document.

According to the report, “the use of masks is recommended in significant outdoor events/ concerts and events in closed environments and work contexts when there is a proximity between workers of less than two metres”, says Lusa.

IST data also indicates that the seven-day average incidence rose from 14,267 to 27,388, which is “almost certainly due to the abrupt withdrawal of mask use in almost all contexts and the new BA.5 strain of the Omicron variant” that is in the country.

Test positivity remains at very high levels, above 59%”, says the report, which attributes this rise to the “elimination of free testing in pharmacies, which leads the public to test only to confirm privately performed testing”.

Lethality (number of deaths concerning cases of infection) “has been rising since February 6. In about two months it doubled February’s values”, and is currently at 0.25%, says the document, which considers there is an upward trend in this indicator “due to the decrease in the effect of immunity in those over 70 years old”.

For now, nothing is being said about the growing elephant in the room: Portugal is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. According to the Our World in Data site, Portugal comes in 2nd in the world for Covid vaccinations with 95% of the population protected, and 95% of the over-80s boosted (97% of the over 70s have also been boosted). Why, if so many people are so diligently jabbed are so many of them dying?

Part of the answer may well lie in the fact that vaccines (and boosters) being administered, even today, are ‘ancestral’.