“We will only get back to normal when at least 70% of the country has been vaccinated”, said prime minister António Costa on his second ‘high profile’ day of visiting hospitals in the company of health minister Marta Temido – and somehow trying to take the heat off the ‘vaccine supply’ row that has inflamed Europe.
Yesterday, his message was that 70% of the country would be vaccinated by the end of the summer. Thus, for now, that is the point that citizens can focus on for ‘a return to normality’.
As to the questions swirling about Portugal’s performance with regard to rolling-out its vaccines, the picture is calming somewhat. For every 100 citizens, 3.6 have so far received their shots, and the pace is set to increase, says the health minister.
In Mr Costa’s words: “Almost 400,000 people have had at least one dose of the vaccine, and we’re close to 100,000 who have had a second dose as well”.
For Mr Costa, now is the moment to “support the European Commission, to guarantee contracts with the industry are complied with”, and not to add to criticisms that have seen one German minister use words that many news outlets reported today ‘cannot be repeated’.
In spite of clear signs that the situation in Portugal is finally responding to enforced restrictions and measures, this is still a ‘critical moment’.
Doctors are warning of another two horribly intense weeks in the nation’s hospitals. Expresso, has described “the race against catastrophe medicine”.
Mr Costa’s ‘hospital walkabout’ seems to be designed to try and ‘calm the nation’s anxieties’. He stressed no-one needs to call their health centre to try and find out when they will be offered a vaccine: they will receive notice either via a text message (if they have a mobile phone), or via a letter/ phone call.
And as newspapers explained recently, anyone concerned that they may not be registered at a local health centre, should get a ‘declaration’ from their private doctor, attesting to their clinical situation, which will then be mailed to the health centre in order for that person to be included in the vaccination criteria.