The Portuguese government is planning to call a meeting with experts at Infarmed by the end of November in order to discuss the country’s rising Covid-19 cases.
Reports Público newspaper, the goal will be to agree upon a strategy to keep the situation under control and “save Christmas” – in other words, to ensure that people are free to enjoy the holiday season without the threat of another lockdown being imposed.
Baltazar Nunes (an expert from the Ricardo Jorge Institute) has warned that extra caution will be needed during the upcoming festive season, which may coincide with the “loss of effectiveness” of vaccines – especially among the elderly who were the first to receive the vaccine and who haven’t yet received a third jab.
One issue that seems to be worrying authorities is the slow roll-out of the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“The difficulties of convincing the elderly that another dose is necessary” have been highlighted as the main obstacle affecting the roll-out, while sources close to the President of the Republic have told Observador newspaper that a “larger awareness campaign” may be necessary to get the word out about the importance of the third dose.
While some have called for the return of Portugal’s popular vice-admiral and former coordinator of the country’s vaccination task force Gouveia e Melo, the same sources have dismissed the possibility.
“The vice-admiral has his own life, he cannot handle the vaccinations his whole life,” the sources told Observador.
Another factor that has reportedly played into the slowdown of the vaccination plan is the several strikes that have affected the public sector in recent weeks, which have hampered the “great efforts” that have been made at health centres.
The “natural fatigue” being felt among health professionals in recent months is also singled out as another issue.
As worrying signs come from other parts of Europe – Netherlands has imposed a partial lockdown – and the number of cases and hospitalisations linked to Covid-19 steadily increases in Portugal, national authorities are hoping to draw up a plan soon to keep the country from being forced into yet another lockdown.