DGS health director Graça Freitas during one of the press conferences that used to take place on a daily basis for Covid-19 updates

DGS health authority accused of releasing “dubious technical opinion” to try and persuade more parents to submit children to Covid vaccination

Yesterday news sources in Portugal quoted a ‘technical opinion’ released by the DGS health authority suggesting incidents of myocarditis in children infected by SARS-CoV-2 were 60 times higher than in children who had been vaccinated.

The paper came from the authority’s national programme for cerebro-cardiovascular diseases, and referred to data coming out of the United States’ vaccination programme for 5-11 year olds, stressing “no mortality directly related to the vaccine is known”.

Said SIC noticias, one of the stations featuring the report: “The experts who elaborated the opinion defend that vaccination showed itself to be efficient in the prevention of serious disease and in mortality, and that its adverse secondary effects are rare and barely significant”.

The station stressed the paper cited “recent studies to affirm that in vaccinated teens the possibility of multisystemic inflammatory disease reduces following infection by 91%”

Investigative online Página Um went to work on these soundbytes, to find that they had been essentially ‘skewed’ to fit an agenda.

“Through the database on hospitalizations in the first 15 months of the pandemic”, the online has revealed “another reality”.

Not only are myocarditis and multi systemic inflammatory disease “incredibly rare”, they have actually caused only one death in Portugal below the age of 50 (a woman, aged 34, who died after contracting multisystemic inflammatory disease).

Says the online, yes, these conditions cause death in the elderly, “thus the advantage of their being vaccinated” – but not in children or teens.

Página Um adds that it also “detected incongruencies” in paper “with poorly made scientific references”.

Some of these came in the form of the bibliographic references: “None refer to specific data from Portugal, not even indicating any national data on myocarditis and multi systemic inflammatory syndrome in children, young people and adults of working age and the elderly. This data exists, but the DGS refuses to disclose it”.

Página Um is in the process of ‘constructing a newspaper’ “devoted mainly to journalistic research and to the analysis and reflection of current affairs, with the aim of promoting public debate on topics of social interest”.

It has been registered with the ERC (regulatory body for the press) since late last year.

But its questions to the DGS on this latest ‘technical opinion’ have been met, it concedes, with the usual ‘stone wall’: no reply from either the ‘experts’ behind it, nor from the authority’s director Graça Freitas.

Meantime, in a separate text, the online explains it has sent at least 10 requests for information to the DGS during the pandemic “never having received a favourable response. 

“The only information that PÁGINA UM receives from the DGS are the monotonous daily cases, the deaths, the numbers that have been vaccinated against Covid-19, which are of little use to judge the quality of management of the pandemic”.

Even the General Medical Council has complained of the lack of substance to DGS data: deaths are not given any context: ages, comorbidities, even vaccination status are all ignored. The deaths are simply ‘numbers’ – and in the large scheme of things, fractions of the country’s habitual daily death toll.

All this is about to change, however, following a decision by CADA, the commission for access to administrative documents, determining that the DGS must supply Página Um with “all the opinions and communications from members of the vaccination technical commission”.

CADA’s decision, released last week, is not binding. The DGS can challenge it in the Administrative Court, but the fact that it is being pushed to do so will, in Página Um’s opinion, further pressure the State body to “change its attitude of secretism concerning management of the pandemic”.

By coincidence yesterday a group of medical specialists sent out an appeal, in the form of an Open Letter, to suspend vaccination of the country’s 5-11 year olds, on the basis that less than half the universe of children eligible are taking up the shots, and virus dissemination remains ‘enormous’. 

The call received less than a 30-second mention on last night’s news bulletins.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com