Caption text lifted from Diário de Notícias today: "activity of SARS CoV-2 virus in Portugal is still high, Red Lines report recommends maintenance of vigilance and rules of individual protection"

Omicron’s Variant BA.2 is now dominant in Portugal: mortality ‘high’

In spite of the impression that Covid updates are the last new items anyone anywhere in the world is seeking out, they come relentlessly. 

Diário de Notícias today stresses that the Omicron variant BA.2 is now “dominant in Portugal, and mortality is high”.

Again, this is relative: mortality is high in the over-80s (all of whom we have been told in the past are fully vaccinated).

Only 3% of those who received their double dose of vaccines against Covid-19 have refused to take boosters, say reports – ergo, the country is still hugely ‘protected’. Yet still ‘mortality is high’.

By that reports show that over 20 people are dying with/ from Covid per day (invariably over the age of 70  and with compound morbidities: this detail is rarely stated in black and white, but if fatalties were young, healthy non-vaccinated people, we would without doubt be hearing about them).

Determined to create as much drama from this current situation as possible, INSA specialists have warned that BA2 is “much more contagious than BA1” (“the variant that left the world in panic due to its elevated degree of transmission”, says DN, neglecting to recall the world only went into panic because experts refused to listen to reports coming out of South Africa at the time insisting that Omicron was ‘benign’ and ‘not much more than a normal dose of flu’).

This week, data analyst Carlos Antunes of the Science Faculty of Lisbon University has finally admitted the country is in a “comfortable situation in relation to the number of cases – likely to stabilise in the coming days to between 5,000 to 10,000 cases”, says DN.

Yesterday’s bulletin showed hospital numbers continue to fall (there are now only 85 people in ICUs nationwide), but the ‘Red Lines report’ is still concentrating on what it calls ‘high mortality’: 41.7 deaths per million inhabitants over a 14 day period.

This ‘high’ death toll has to be related to the fact that Portugal has an aging population in varying stages of ill-health; as these age groups are still readily catching the virus in spite of their stellar update of the vaccinations, it is possibly little wonder that they are dying.

But none of this is ever said. Instead, our reports insist that experts classify the impact of the pandemic (can it really still a called pandemic?) as “elevated”.

With regard to vaccination, DN and other media outlets reiterate the lower likelihood of vaccinated people facing ‘the risk of entering hospital’ if they are vaccinated. 

“In relation to the booster dose, data shows that “this reduces the risk of death from Covid-19 in people aged 80 or more almost four times in relation to those who have only completed their primary vaccination scheme (ie two doses)”. 

The same was verified in the population of 65 or more: “the vaccine confers an elevated protection, superior or equal to 94%, in relation to more serious situations like hospital internment and death”.

As to vaccinations and their protective effects on younger age groups, DN (and other news sources) are silent.

The reality is that incidence these days is in freefall (1,432.4 cases per 100,000 – and most of these are asymptomatic or so light as to be missed unless tested); Rt is at 0.76.

Spring is round the corner: April 3 has been mooted as the date when all remaining restrictions should be lifted, but to date the DGS health authority has refused to confirm this (even though it was health director Graça Freitas who came up with the date on the day Russia invaded Ukraine). 

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com