Covid Portugal: Another appeal to “look at hospitalisation and deaths, not cases’

Expresso today gives space to one of its regular commentators to ‘give the other side’ of what is happening in the pandemic.

So little space is generally given by the mainstream to opinions like these, that once again it might be helpful simply to translate it.

Writer Henrique Raposo is the same journalist who explained why he could not be persuaded to vaccinate his young daughters against a disease they are statistically extremely unlikely to get (click here).

This week his column begins: “We are living in a senseless spiral of fear, and ignoring the greatest scientific tool: the vaccine. 

“Society continues obsessively to count cases when it should be counting hospitalisations and deaths to be able to reach the obvious comparison that guarantees hope and security: 3,000 cases per day in December 2020 represented x deaths; now 3,000 cases per day provokes a much lower mortality.

“Why is the narrative not like this? Why is it that no-one speaks like this? Why is the focus on the dubious vaccination of children and imposition of tests for simple things? Who does this increasingly unreasonable sense of fear benefit?

“I repeat: if we maintain this level of death from Covid (between 10-20 deaths per day) it will mean that this winter the number of deaths from Covid will be a great deal lower than the number of deaths from flu in recent years.

“One winter not so long ago we lost 4,500/5,000 people to flu. That means, before 2019/2020 we had a winter where 40-50 people died per day from flu.

“Right now, with vaccination so high, daily Covid deaths are between 10 and 20. If this is not a success I don’t know what is a success. Yet pointing this out is prohibited. It is even prohibited to look at the numbers with clarity, with hope.

“Cases will not disappear. We will all have contact with the virus. We will all contract Covid in the same way we all get the flu. What is important is not the contact with the virus, but hospitalisation and the number of deaths.

“Even in the United States sensible, liberal voices are defending the view that Covid is endemic, not pandemic – and the Americans do not have our level of vaccination.

“In Singapore, a country with a vaccination rate identical to ours, authorities moved their positions in September. They began treating Covid like an endemic disease and looked solely at hospitalisations and deaths. The health minister assured the country as highly vaccinated as ours by saying: “In the last month, of the 41,632 people who tested positive, 98.7% were asymptomatic or had very light symptoms”. 

“In other words, we should go forwards accepting that Covid is an endemic disease which will always have thousands of cases every winter. What is important is deaths and numbers in intensive care, not the number of cases. 

“In contrast, in Portugal, the government, DGS and media continue to spread fear and demonise a positive test, as if we were in March of 2020.

“In this way, it is not possible to say that we live in a society that values reason and freedom. We don’t.”

As if on cue, this morning a new law published in State newspaper Diário da República opens the way to the government once again imposing the mandatory use of masks in the street “when physical distancing recommended by health authorities is impractical”.

The understanding is that tomorrow’s Council of Ministers will be making such an announcement, on the basis that it is “necessary, adequate and proportionate for the prevention, containment and mitigation of epidemiological infection of COVID-19”.