Portugal defines vaccine strategy as PM says distribution in Europe “will be simultaneous”

Friday October 30 may be one of the days Portugal’s ‘virus news’ is seen to have gone completely overboard. National media is bombarding the web with information, all of it seeming to ramp up the idea that we will be going into a new State of Emergency (though not a lockdown)

Prime minister António Costa has even reported on yesterday’s extraordinary (virtual) meeting of the European Council, saying that the distribution of vaccines is to be ‘simultaneous in tune with the population of each country”.

There has been little reference to the fact that there is still no timeline for an effective vaccine to become available (as far as we know…)

A report from the United States yesterday, headed “It may be time to reset expectations on when we’ll get a Covid-19 vaccine”, suggests the Food and Drug Administration “may not be comfortable recommending use of vaccines on very limited safety and efficacy data”.

A ‘senior writer’ for Stat News explained: “It is important to note that, to date, none of the vaccines being developed for the U.S. market has been proven to be effective in preventing Covid-19 disease”.

Yet according to Mr Costa, in Europe “three contracts have been signed and there is a fourth (for the acquisition of vaccines) under negotiation.

“Each lote of vaccines will be distributed equitably to all countries according to the population of each one”, he said.

Member States have been advised to define their vaccine strategy, which Portugal intends to do next month, he added, stressing: “We have to have the national vaccine strategy ready next month”.

Mr Costa outlined the gist of the extraordinary council, saying “all countries transmitted a position of concern in the face of the evolution of the pandemic which is putting pressure on all health systems, including those of the richer countries”.

There was “a favourable position on the use of IT applications, particularly to save a lot of work for contact tracers” (see separate story to come shortly).

“The European Commission wants to conclude the interoperability of all communications, so that all citizens circulating between countries can be protected by their own application”, he said

This appears to have been a rather confusing way of saying contact tracing apps are going to be made ‘compulsory’ after all in the interests of every EU citizen’s wellbeing. Indeed travel from country to country could depend on it.

The PM continued that the meeting “decided to increase the intensity of exchange of information between all Member States in the struggle against the pandemic, and that the European Commission proposed the creation of a scientific commission, involving elements from all countries, to deepen understanding on Covid-19”.

Said the prime minister: “There will be a mass rollout of rapid antigen testing which we hope to put into practice in Portugal by November 9.

“The necessity to identify the validity of different tests with a view to speeding (them) up and isolating those who test positive” was also agreed by the European Council, he said.

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