Portugal reports ‘more bad news’ as internationally hopes for vaccine point to being ‘back to normal’ by spring

More bad news in Portugal today: another 63 deaths registered as caused by Covid-19, with 4,906 new cases of infection flagged by the country’s mass testing regime.

But good news is starting to filter through that US drug company Pfizer in collaboration with Germany’s BioNTech may have come up with a vaccine.

Reports suggest ‘early results from a massive clinical trial suggest nine out of 10 people who get their jab and protected by it”.

British media is already running with stories that the UK has pre-ordered 10 million doses to be in circulation by Christmas ‘if the drug wins approval’.

Experts are predicting “we could be back to normal by the spring”.

Which may see the world’s media step back from the frenetic conveyor belt of apocalyptic ‘news’ and even more dire ‘forecasts’.

For now, Portugal’s media is proclaiming another “record” tally of deaths – never, it has to be said, reminding readers that every day an average of 250-300 deaths are recorded in this country (and we don’t get 24-hour bulletins on any of them).

Of course ‘any death is to be lamented’. But looking at the bigger picture, the world may at last be starting to emerge from Covid chaos and all the heartache it entails.

Presenting Portugal’s latest picture today, DGS health director Graça Freitas said, if the Pfizer vaccines effectiveness is confirmed “it will be one of the best vaccines we have”.

Portugal, like the UK, has been to an extent pinning its hopes on Pfizer. It’s one of the vaccines that “Portugal has been planning to acquire”, she confirmed.

Regarding today’s grim national picture, hospital admissions have leapt by another 129 patients since Sunday’s bulletin.

In the last 24-hours there have been 13 more patients moved to ICUs, bringing the numbers there up to 391.

New infections are, as before, ‘concentrated in the north’ (recording 2,265 new cases), with 1,217 in the Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo areas, 379 in the centre, 148 in the Alentejo, 60 in the Algarve, 16 in the Azores and 11 in Madeira.

Deaths too were mostly in the north (33), 22 in Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo, five in the centre, one each in the Alentejo, Algarve and Madeira.
This latter death was Madeira’s second in the whole period of the pandemic. Again, what is never explained in the charts are the ages of the victims. The death in Madeira was of a 94-year-old man – a Portuguese national whose impressive longevity exceeded the national average for life expectancy by more well over a decade.

In spite of the ‘positivity’ in the air globally today, Portugal’s ‘guiding light’ during the pandemic, Graça Freitas, is keeping her feet on the ground. It is not for her to predict the future, she told journalists today. “We have to continue monitoring this epidemic. The facts have the gravity that we know”.

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