Task force appeals to all those naturally ‘recovered’ from Covid to take up vaccine

Portugal’s vaccination task force is appealing to people who have had Covid-19 and recovered to turn up and receive the vaccine.

“Only together will it be possible to beat this virus”, is the message coming through today.

“We are appealing to everyone who has recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection, diagnosed within at least the last three months and who haven’t yet been vaccinated against Covid-19, to turn up at a vaccination centre using the “open house” policy as soon as possible, as these centres will soon be focused on vaccinating against flu” says the latest communiqué from the organisation led by naval vice-admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo.

The ‘beauty’ of the open house policy at vaccination centres is that people can turn up and take advantage of the facility wherever they happen to be at the time. Vaccination is not restricted to area of residence. In fact, people now can receive their first vaccine in one centre, and their second in another.

What is not (ever) touched upon in these press releases is the fact that a number of international (even peer-reviewed) studies have shown natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 affords a great deal superior protection against Covid-19 than any of the current vaccines.

This was (once) briefly mentioned by a national expert (click here)

Since then there have been various studies: one study coming out of Israel saw scientists report in August that “natural immunity confers longer-lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalisation caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 compared to the BNT162b two-dose vaccine-induced immunity” (click here).

There are also studies that suggest previously infected people could have more violent reactions to Covid vaccinations. The official consensus nonetheless remains that ‘vaccination is vital’ irrespective of whether or not one has recovered from the virus.

One or two doses?

This is another moot point. Portugal is currently vaccinating recovered people (who aren’t immunosuppressed) with only one dose of Covid vaccine. (The immunosuppressed can receive two doses.) But the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Control) has already changed its orientation on the subject to two doses, for both healthy people who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection and those with compromised immune systems.

The goal posts on timing, too, have changed: initially those recovered only qualified for vaccination after six months, now the orientation is three. Again, the reasons for this change in policy are hazy.

Only last week in Switzerland – when health chiefs also opted away from the six month stipulation to three-months – the head of the federal office of public health explained the change was down to the understanding that “immunity from a Delta variant infection now offers less protection than with other variants”.

Again, this understanding wasn’t further explained.

Experts in Portugal have repeatedly said that 100% of infections in Portugal are from the Delta variant – and that this is the most highly transmissible and infectious of all variants currently in circulation.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com