Risk of Portugal not being prepared to distribute vaccine is “zero”, says health minister

The risk of Portugal not being prepared to distribute the vaccine against Covid-19 once it is authorised is zero, affirmed health minister Marta Temido yesterday.

Indeed, today, government newspaper Diário da República published details of the task force created by the government to coordinate the entire vaccination plan, from its strategy to the various logistics of storage, distribution and administration.

The task force has one month to “define the whole process”, explains Público.

But yesterday in Porto, Marta Temido was extolling on Portugal’s “very significant history in terms of vaccination campaigns and its national vaccination plan”.

The government has been “preparing to receive the vaccine for some time”. Officials have been ‘identifying storage facilities’ as well as the necessary equipment to accommodate storage (which in the case of the Pfizer vaccine could mean extremely sophisticated refrigeration systems).

Ms Temido insisted Portugal is preparing to receive all kinds of vaccines coming onto the market. “This is the guarantee we can give the Portuguese people”, she said – though the details are not ready yet.

Announcements however are already been ‘worked on’ so that people will understand “for whom the vaccine is destined; why one person may get it and another not, what the conditions are for those who receive it first and those who receive it later”.

The minister said the government’s understanding is that ‘availability’ of the vaccine will “increase in the spring” to the point that by the third quarter of 2021, the government’s strategy will be well on the way.

It was a ‘revelation’ that the mere arrival on national soil of Covid-19 vaccines will in no way be an end to the pandemic, or the measures in place to try and contain it.

Ms Temido’s actual words were that “a lot of hope is being deposited in the vaccine” but it can only be seen as “just another form of facing this illness”.

Containment measures “will probably be maintained while the vaccine is being administered”, she said.

It’s a situation that has seen journalist Pedro Tadeu, writing in Diário de Notícias, concede that the whole ‘rolling out of the Covid vaccine’ could end up being a colossal anti-climax.

People will be expecting ‘everything to change’ quickly, he said, when in fact it will be a long, complicated process in which restrictions and ‘government impositions’ on people remain in force.

Tadeu even suggested the pandemic ‘wouldn’t end’ with the rolling out of vaccines, as some countries won’t be able to buy enough to inoculate all their citizens.

He suggests that populations aren’t being prepared for the possible anti-climax, which is, in his opinion, “political suicide”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com