WYD: Pilgrims participate in the World Youth Day
World Youth Day earlier this month could well have been a moment where infections 'increased' as Lisbon was invaded by well over a million pilgrims from all over the world Photo: ANTONIO COTRIM/LUSA

Covid: ‘new, more infectious variant arrived in Portugal a month ago’

‘Covid infects 300 people a day; long Covid affects 336,000 in Portugal’

Suddenly focus is returning to Covid-19. Ostensibly this is because “a new more infectious variant arrived in Portugal a month ago and is currently infecting 300 people a day”.

Other media sources highlight the ‘scourge’ of long Covid, which reportedly already affects roughly 336,000 people in Portugal.

It could be because we are now at the height of the ‘silly season’, or it could be because new vaccines are being developed that will be plugged increasingly as autumn approaches.

Observador, for example, writes that the ‘new variant’ – Eris, or EG.5 – the one that is ‘infecting’ up to 300 people a day (focus on ‘infecting’, NOT causing victims to rush to hospital) “is leading the number of new infections in the US where health authorities are preparing to administer new vaccines against Covid-19 next month.

“These vaccines are updated to combat the new variant which is not only increasing in the United States, but also in Europe”.

But according to Reuters, says the online, “even with the number of positive cases increasing, some specialists in public health fear that vaccination levels will not be high”.

Observador’s report admits that “despite the trend of increasing prevalence of this variant, no significant changes have been reported in relation to the severity of Covid-19 disease. Moreover, the risk posed by this variant is low”.

In other words, fearful public health specialists could be scaring themselves over very little: vaccination levels may well ‘not be high’ for this new variant, but the risk posed by it is low… so essentially it shouldn’t matter.

This is where long Covid is pulled out of the hat – with dramatic effect: Portugal currently has more than 336,000 Portuguese “living with the consequences of Covid-19,  but the number could increase in the coming weeks and months”, writes Correio da Manhã today.

“The World Health Organisation estimates that 6% of people who have had Covid-19 suffer with long Covid, which can manifest in several ways and with different levels of gravity from person to person. 

“On a global level, it is estimated that 10% to 20% of people infected with Covid-19 end up having some symptom of long Covid over the course of their lifetime. In Portugal, since March 2020, more than 5.6 million cases of Covid-19 have been registered, and there are thousands of people who have been infected more than once”, writes the paper.

CM does not explain how it has been estimated that 10% to 20% of people infected with the virus end up having ‘some symptom of long Covid over the course of their lifetime’, as Covid has only been in circulation, we’re told, since 2019. But the general feel of national reporting today is that ‘something has changed’.

CM devotes a column to the symptoms of long Covid – which are coincidentally interchangeable with many of the adverse reactions people have reported after receiving the vaccines – delivering the message that “people who suffered Covid-19 with serious reactions, or who were not vaccinated are more likely to suffer from long Covid”.

That is a finding confirmed in a study published in the British Medical Journal this year, which based its results on tests on a group of 455 vaccinated people, versus 455 unvaccinated.

The findings revealed a small reduction in both the severity and the duration of long covid symptoms in people who were vaccinated. The vaccinated group had on average 13 long covid symptoms after 120 days, which compared with 14.8 symptoms among the unvaccinated group”.

CM has also returned to citing ‘cases’ of the disease, versus deaths (giving no context, just numbers).

TVI however has made a point of saying how, although Covid-19 generally affects the elderly, “young people too have been profoundly affected” – and ‘August is proving to be the month with most daily infections’.

Silly season? Or the preparatory rumblings of a new autumn campaign to encourage us all to  ‘get jabbed’ with a new vaccine… in order not to develop potentially debilitating long Covid at some point over the course of our lifetimes?

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