Manuel Carmo Gomes is an epidemiologist; Carlos Antunes is a mathematician

Specialists warn of 5th Covid wave in Portugal, saying even younger generations need boosters

Specialists in Portugal are being credited today with “admitting” that Portugal is on the cusp of a 5th Covid wave.

The message powering across the media is that even younger generations need booster shots of the vaccine even though they (naturally) have a low risk of suffering serious consequences from Covid-19.

Critics will say “you could see this coming a mile off”.

The development follows publication of an article by Manuel Carmo Gomes and Carlos Antunes – both key advisors through Portugal’s outbreaks – working out of Lisbon university’s Faculty of Sciences.

The gist of the paper is that Covid-19 will not interfere with normalisation of life as long as people maintain “elevated protection with reinforcement of vaccination in age groups where new cases are increasing the most, even if they have less risk of serious disease”.

By coincidence, Jornal de Notícias reports this morning that “more than half the new cases and deaths” from Covid-19 in Portugal are among fully-vaccinated individuals.

This has been confirmed before by president of the general medical council Miguel Guimarães (click here).

In other words, the push for a nationwide roll-out of vaccine doses pre-purchased (and already in stock) has been ongoing for some time.

The specialists’ point however is that “over the last few weeks ages where the risk of infection has been highest are those between 18-25, followed by children under the age of 10, and young adults from 25-40”.

These are not the age groups suffering serious consequences or dying. But to try and reduce the likelihood of transmission in the first place, the specialists recommend further vaccinations.

The issue here is that on this basis vaccination against Covid-19 will never stop – and while authorities may respond “it’s like the flu vaccine, people need to take it every year”, millions of people never take a flu vaccine. They will be strongly encouraged however to take-up Covid booster shots.

Reports this morning seem to ‘blame’ the increase in infections on the fact that restrictions in a large part lifted on October 1 (click here). (Anyone reading this link will see ‘Freedom Day’ coincided with Portugal purchasing 24 million doses of Covid vaccine…)

Doctors Carmo Gomes and Antunes explain that elderly people, though continuing to be the most susceptible to the virus, and representing 91% of deaths, even today, are not the sources of new infections. Indeed, they are believed to represent around only 15% of new infections.

Thus the message is that younger generations need to take-up the boosters in order to protect the elderly and most vulnerable.

Says Jornal de Notícias, the two experts “defend that only with a combination of elevated vaccine cover and maintenance of non-pharmacological measures, particularly the use of masks and airing of closed spaces, can the propagation of SARS-CoV-2 be significantly retarded”.

The men explain that ignoring such requirements “is the probable explanation for the resurgence of infection currently seen in Europe, even in countries where 60% to 75% of the population is vaccinated, as is the case of the United Kingdom, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Greece and Ireland”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com