DGS health director Graça Freitas

Goodbye daily Covid bulletins

DGS calls time on day-by-day tally of disease on wane

Not before time, Portugal’s DGS health authority has decided to do away with the daily bulletins published mid-afternoon charting the path of a virus that is now visibly on the wane.

From tomorrow, the official bulletins will come only weekly.

That has not stopped today’s report: 12,794 new cases (almost all of which will be either mild or showing no symptoms at all); 18 deaths (almost all of which will be in vaccinated elderly people with compound comorbidities), but somehow these ‘almosts’ are never stressed. Only the ‘bad news’ is ever stressed – and today’s is that Rt (transmission) has started to ‘creep up again’, and is now at 0.90, seeing the number of active cases nationwide increase as only 8,319 people ‘recovered’ in the same corresponding 24-hour period.

The fact these 8,319 people may never have been ill is also another aspect nearly never touched upon.

But at least we have progress. 

Specialists called in to guide the country through the pandemic suggested an end to the daily bulletins months ago.

It is quite remarkable that it has taken so long.

Meantime, Infarmed medicines authority has published its latest Pharmacovigilance report, in which it shows that for every thousand vaccines administered, one adverse reaction was logged.

This boils down to 23,000 adverse reactions versus 23 million inoculations. Those ‘adverse reactions’ were then put into various categories: 7,285 were considered serious, of which 4,364 were considered ‘clinically important’, 1,799 resulted in ‘incapacity’ (including absenteeism from work) and 127 involving ‘situations of death’.

This is where one realises that the report has its own slant on transparency.

“During campaigns of vaccination it is expected that deaths due to other causes will continue to take place, sometimes in strict temporal association with vaccination…”

Infarmed explains “that the cases of death occurred in a group of individuals with a median age of 77” and whose deaths “cannot be considered related with a vaccine against Covid-19 just because they were notified in a spontaneous way on the national pharmacovigilance system”. The “resulting fatal adverse effect could be explained by clinical antecedents of the patients/ or by other treatments”.

The fact remains, nonetheless, that these dead people with a median age of 77 will have been encouraged (when they were still alive) to take the vaccine as a way of preventing them from … death (or hospitalistation/serious illness as a result of Covid-19).

Moving swiftly on, Infarmed gives itself a great deal of future leeway: “During campaigns of vaccination it is expected that deaths due to other causes will continue to take place, sometimes in strict temporal association with vaccination, and without necessarily having anything to do with vaccination”.

These people are the experts – hence why national media repeats all these Kafkaesque statements without what appears to be a second thought, but it cannot be easy for families whose perfectly ‘fine’ elderly relative went in for his/ her booster, or even his/ her first or second vaccination, and for reasons apparently totally unconnected with the shot, never lived to see the following week.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com