Portugal’s R number – the indication of how many people a positive case of SARS-CoV-2 will go on to infect – has dropped yet again in another day in which the media dances between potentially positive stories, and those stressing the negative.
In simple terms, the last 24-hours have seen another 21,917 new infections; another 31 deaths; and another fairly dramatic leap in hospital admissions.
The flip side of the DGS daily bulletin is that 18,083 people have ‘recovered’ from testing positive and are now testing negative – and that numbers in hospitals are still below the ‘red lines’ set by health authorities.
The ‘elephant in the room’ remains that experts are trying to throttle back on the constant updates on numbers and deaths. Various have attempted to explain that the bulletins are fairly meaningless in the large scale of things – and that most peak flu seasons see similar numbers in terms of both daily fatalities and hospitalisations.
Thanks to the ‘miracle of the vaccines’, and the reality that SARS-CoV-2 has mutated favourably, Covid-19 is not killing any more citizens than a nasty dose of flu generally does.
But still the daily bulletins assail the country every afternoon, bringing a frisson of trepidation with them.
It may be this is a way of persuading people to get their booster shots – but this appears to be happening regardless of any drum-beating: over 90% of the over-80s and over-70s have already received their 3rd doses of Covid vaccines, and 81% of the over-60s.
Efforts to encourage all other age groups are continuing apace.
The inconvenient truth – that the most-vaccinated countries are the ones most suffering from Omicron infections – is being glossed over
Diário de Notícias today simply states that Portugal – the second most vaccinated country in the world (click here) – now has an average of 3,440 new cases per million inhabitants, which sounds scary (but actually isn’t).
France – a country that is treating its relatively few unvaccinated citizens as if they were lepers, is on 4,370 new cases per million (when 79% of its people are vaccinated); Denmark is on 3,970 (when 83% of citizens are vaccinated) and Ireland is on 3,590 new cases per million inhabitants (with 80% vaccinated).
The World Health Organisation admission that Omicron is being powered by young, healthy, vaccinated citizens (click here) has been lost in the media swirl.
Meantime, the EU today has removed three highly-vaccinated countries from its list of ‘safe countries’: Canada (with 84% of its population vaccinated); Argentina (with 86%) and Australia (with 81%).
The list of third countries the EU deems safe for people to travel to has boiled down to:Bahrein, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Ruanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, and China (subject to China confirming reciprocity).
The inclusion of China is curious as the country has 20 million citizens under strict lockdown and, according to the New York Times of yesterday, has suspended flights with “much of the world for the next month”.
All in all, the daily Covid bulletins, and different countries’ pandemic realities are becoming increasingly difficult to interpret.
So too are the predictions by experts for the peak in Portugal’s current Covid wave. Some say infections have already peaked, others say they will peak sometime between Thursday and next Monday, and there are even those who suggest it is ‘too soon to talk about peaking’.