Doctors push for ALL Portugal’s elderly to be vaccinated before Spring

On the day Portugal’s pandemic death toll surpassed 7,000, the country’s General Medical Council has increased its push for the entire elderly population to be vaccinated before the Spring.

Right now, the State’s vaccination programme only envisages immunising residents of old people’s homes and people over the age of 50 with serious illnesses (cardiac insufficiency, coronary disease, renal insufficiency and COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) in Phase 1.

‘Healthy’ seniors (meaning people over the age of 65) have to wait for the second phase of inoculations, not expected to start until at least April.

But the General Medical Council warns this is much too risky.

President Miguel Guimarães stresses the lethality rate of Covid-19 varies hugely according to age.

People over the age of 80 have a 13.6% chance of dying if they contract the disease. This likelihood plummets to just 0.3% in those under the age of 60 – ergo, inoculating the over-60s (or at least over-65s) as soon as possible should reduce the number of deaths while at the same time relieving pressure on the country’s embattled health service.

The council has outlined its concerns in a letter to health minister Marta Temido just as the elderly population in old people’s homes are to start receiving their first vaccines.

In line with the rest of Europe, Portugal’s vaccination programme began almost a week ago, starting with healthcare workers in five key hospital centres. It then moved on to include doctors, nurses, medical auxiliaries and personnel in other parts of the country.

Picking up this story this afternoon, RTP news reports that Portugal’s vaccine coordinator Francisco Ramos is unlikely to change the programme’s criteria.

He told the channel: “I don’t agree with the need to revise criteria because the age factor is already expressed (in the plan). Residents of old people’s homes are as a rule the oldest people and it is in the group of those over the age of 50 with pathologies identified that most severe illnesses and deaths occur”.

That said, as of December 31, 4,717 of the then 6,906 deaths that have occurred during the pandemic were in people over the age of 80. 

Meantime, the latest bulletin continues with the ‘swings and roundabouts’ in terms of numbers that have characterised the outbreak from the outset.

There have been another 73 deaths in the last 24-hours attributed to the virus – the majority in the areas of Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo and the north (+28 and +22 respectively), followed by the central region (+14) and Alentejo (+9).

The Algarve, Azores and Madeira did not register any deaths in the last 24-hours – but then all these areas have suffered much less than the more urban centres of the mainland.

Numbers of new cases appear ‘reduced’ in comparison to the last few days of relatively high numbers (+3,241 as opposed to December 31’s 6,951) but this could be explained by the fact that they were taken on New Year’s Day – a public holiday – and this may well have limited the number of tests performed.

For the full picture (click here).

Hospital admissions in the last 24-hours have increased, as has the number of people in ICUs.

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image: taken from Facebook page of ‘Old People Care’, a start up in Carnaxide