As the cold weather and biting winds are set to continue, health chiefs are reporting 2,629 more deaths from flu this year than originally expected.
Following the shock revelation earlier this month that the 2014 flu vaccine was “not effective” (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/portugal%E2%80%99s-flu-vaccine-%E2%80%9Cnot-effective%E2%80%9D) , the Dr Ricardo Jorge national institute of health has released data to show that this winter’s outbreak is rapidly reaching the kind of levels of the so-called Bird Flu epidemic of 2012 – and those were the highest in 24 years.
According to media reports this week, more cases are expected to flood already over-worked hospitals “because the cold weather is set to continue”.
But while flu traditionally affects the very young and the very old, the institute was quick to point out that this year’s deaths were all in the over-75 age category.
The institute confirmed that the problem lay in the fact that the majority of the viruses at work this winter “belong to genetic groups that include strains different to those in the vaccine”.
Whatever the reasons, it is a bitter pill for the health service at a time when hospitals throughout the country are reporting huge backlogs and packed waiting rooms.
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]