Friday, December 10th | COVID-19 Weekly Update
In the last 24 hours, 16 people have died in Portugal, and there are 3,742 new cases infected with COVID-19. According to data released today in the epidemiological bulletin of the DGS, there are now a total of 1,185,036 confirmed cases in the country, 18,626 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As for the number of people who recovered from the disease, 4,357 cases were recorded, increasing to 1,101,911.
THE PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The DGS revealed yesterday the technical position on vaccination against COVID-19 in children aged five to 11 years. The document “is the result of international studies and consultation of other scientific sources, concluding that the risk-benefit assessment is promising to universal vaccination of children in this age group, being a priority for children with comorbidities considered at risk for COVID-19 serious”, is referred.
The Ordem dos Médicos, through Miguel Guimarães, has already come forward and wants the DGS to publish the opinion that gave rise to the recommendation to vaccinate children between five and 11 years old against COVID-19.
Constitutionalist Paulo Otero also states that the DGS has to fully disclose all the documents it received from the Technical Commission on Vaccination against COVID-19 regarding the recommendation mentioned above. “The principle of transparency in public administration is at stake”, which has constitutional protection, he defends.
Moreover, yesterday the Minister of Health, Marta Temido, stated that the technical position of the Vaccination Commission and “the final opinion” on the vaccination of children “will naturally be made public”, admitting that the “instructional” documents of the various entities remain internal.
At the same time, Portugal is among the two most serious scenarios in the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, defined by the health authority’s strategy for autumn and winter, given the emergence of a new variant, according to Graça Freitas, director-general of Health.
THE PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
Yesterday, the European Medicines Agency defended the need to gather more data on the new Omicron variant before decisions are taken on the strategy to follow in the fight against COVID-19. At a press conference, Marco Cavaleri, responsible for the EMA vaccination strategy, noted that “preliminary data indicate that the Omicron variant, already present in several European countries, maybe more transmissible than the Delta variant.”
However, the WHO said yesterday that the protection against severe forms of COVID conferred by vaccines lasts “up to six months” after the second dose or the single dose in the case of the Janssen vaccine.
At the same time, the new German Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, today called for the consistent implementation of the restriction measures to contain the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, insisting on increasing the vaccination rate. The official stressed that “there is no time to lose”.
Across the Atlantic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday approved a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds. The authorization comes after the US called for all adults to receive the booster dose due to the new variant detected recently in southern Africa.
The head of the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech yesterday estimated it would be necessary to administer the booster of the COVID-19 vaccine three months after the two-dose vaccine schedule due to the transmissibility of the new Omicron variant. Ugür Sahin maintains that the two doses of the vaccine do not provide sufficient immunity against the new variant, requiring a booster dose.
At the same time, a recent investigation into the relationship between obesity and the impact of COVID-19 has revealed a new fact: the coronavirus appears to attack especially the body’s adipose tissue (or fatty tissue), lodging there and potentiating inflammation that later leads to severe disease and, in several cases, death. This is another piece that helps to decipher the puzzle of the relationship between obesity and the risk of death and the development of more serious disease in case of infection by the new coronavirus.
According to data released today by the National Statistics Institute, Portuguese exports increased 3%, and imports grew 17.5% in October compared to the same period last year. The data reveal a 0.7% increase in exports compared to October 2019, while imports grew 4.4%.
The Industrial Turnover Index grew 11.6% in October, which translates into a deceleration of 0.1% compared to the previous month, when an increase of 11.7% was set, also revealed the INE.
At the same time, the Court of Auditors considers that the degree of execution of the public finance reform “is low”. There are currently no technicians in the Budget Framework Law Implementation Unit in an audit released today. The court, chaired by José Tavares, reports that the Recovery and Resilience Plan “has given a new impetus by financing most projects identified since the beginning of the reform”.
Finally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs revealed today that Portugal would resume commercial flights with Mozambique, but passengers will have to be “careful”. Augusto Santos Silva says travellers will have to test the COVID-19 to embark for Portugal; another on landing in Portugal; and then they will have to do a mandatory quarantine.
This morning was once again marked by negative sentiment in European markets, to which the Portuguese Stock Exchange was no exception. The PSI-20 opened down 0.31% to 5,504.90 points, while in Europe, the major stock markets were also falling. After the good news that Omicron is “neutralized” by the third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine, investors are “cautious” about the impact that new restrictions imposed to control the new variant could have on the global economy.
In turn, in October, bond issues exceeded redemptions by 1.6 billion euros, of which 1.1 billion were in debt securities and the remaining 0.5 billion in shares (data published today by Banco de Portugal).