Portugal’s vaccine plan suffers ‘new reverse’

Portugal’s vaccination programme has suffered a ‘new reverse’ due to the shortage of vaccines being delivered, vis-a-vis numbers initially expected.

Vaccine task force coordinator Gouveia e Melo has explained that what is important in this situation “is to save lives”.

With only 2.5 million doses of the 4.4 million promised to the period to the end of March, security forces (police and military) and firefighters have had to be removed from the current priority list.

Says Expresso today, the plan is to use 90% of vaccines available on two groups: those over the age of 80 and people between the ages of 50 and 79 with diseases most susceptible to Covid-19: particularly heart disease, kidney disease and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Security forces and firefighters, as well as various public sector workers and doctors ‘not in the front line’ should have been included in this first phase of the vaccine roll-out, running now into April, but priorities have had to be narrowed to just a few thousand whose protection is considered ‘fundamental’.

Said Gouveia e Melo, it is “an example of the adaptation of the plan to exterior conditions, preserving response to that which is most essential”.

“Practically all” SNS health service doctors and nurses have received their first shots of vaccine, while there has been “more delay” in protecting colleagues in the private sector, health secretary António Lacerda Sales has admitted.

As of yesterday (February 18), Portugal’s vaccination average had reached 5.7 people in every 100. The European average is slightly lower (5.3).

A diagram in Expresso today has charted vaccination per region (although the data is relatively ‘old’, referring to numbers up to February 8). According to the chart, the north has an average of 5 people vaccinated in every 100, the centre has 8, Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo has 5; the Alentejo 10 and the Algarve just 4.

In terms of doses this corresponds to 171,789 doses distributed in the north; 128,580 in the centre, 168,196 doses in Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo, 43,951 doses in the Alentejo and only 18,681 doses in the Algarve.

As to the rhythm of vaccinations, this has been in the order of 22,306 per day. It’s far short of Gouveia e Melo’s objective of 150,000 a day, but for that to be possible supply has to be vastly increased, he said.

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