COVID-19 | Weekly Update

March 26, 2021

Friday, March 26th | COVID-19 Daily Update



According to the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) data, over the last 24 hours were registered 488 new cases of infection and five deaths associated with COVID-19 in Portugal. 

Today’s epidemiological bulletin indicates that there are now a total of 819,698 confirmed cases and 16,819 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

As for recovered patients, 891 more were considered cured, increasing the total number to 771,339.



The Government announced the extension of the current rules in force in the deconfinement plan and that it will only define the rules for the period after Easter next week, on April 1st.

“This is a decision of caution and warning about the conditions that we have to guarantee to be able to continue the deconfinement plan”, said Mariana Vieira da Silva. 

After the Ministers’ Council, the Minister of the Presidency said that Portugal is currently with an accumulated 14-day incidence of 67.7 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants and a transmission rate (Rt) of 0.81.

Yesterday, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa kept the pressure on the Government and the Portuguese population.  

The President of the Republic insisted again on the idea that it is important to increase the screening, testing, and vaccination so that Portugal can reach, “before the summer”, a “fading pandemic” that allows the end of the consecutive states of emergency.

Meanwhile, Thierry Breton is meeting today with Prime Minister António Costa and Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira to discuss the production of vaccines against COVID-19. 

The European Internal Market Commissioner, who leads the EU vaccine working group, will discuss at these meetings “the latest progress made by the working group to increase vaccine production” and “how Portugal can collaborate with the HERA Incubator”. 

For now, Portugal has surpassed one million persons vaccinated with the first dose of one of the vaccines, and, at the same time, 500 thousand second doses administered will be reached, according to a source from the vaccination plan’s task force.  

However, the Shared Services of the Ministry of Health reports that more than a third of the SMS to call on the elderly from 80 years old and people between 50 and 79 years old with diseases of greater risk for vaccination were left unanswered. 

DGS has already called on health professionals to recommend the vaccine to its patients, highlighting the individual and collective benefits and explaining that they are far superior to the risks. 

Regarding testing, the task force responsible for it plans to install test posts in universities, transport, and other adequate sites.

The Government wants to change the Stayaway Covid application to make it easier to obtain and communicate codes, using automated means and more health professionals, but the Data Protection Commission recommends changes to the draft decree-law.



The 27 EU member states considered it is “fundamental and urgent” that the EU “accelerates the production, delivery, and availability of vaccines” as a way to “overcome the crisis”. To achieve the goal, it is recognized the need to “further intensify efforts”. 

In the conclusions approved at yesterday’s EU summit, the member states underlined the “importance of transparency, as well as the use of exports authorizations”, at a time when the EU and one of the vaccine manufacturers, AstraZeneca, are in a dispute over breach of commitments by the company.

The idea of an export blockade began to take shape. And, for Ursula von der Leyen “it is clear that, in the first place, the company has to catch up, it has to honour the contract it has with the European Member States before it can export vaccines again”. 

The president of the European Commission said the EU could already “have been much faster” in vaccination against COVID-19 “if the pharmaceutical companies had fulfilled the contracts”, but said she maintained the immunization goals.

For now, EU Member States have agreed on a proposal for legislation that provides for a coordination group responsible for clinical evaluations of medicines or medical devices and allows to accelerate the arrival of these technologies to patients. 

Across the Atlantic, US President Joe Biden redefined the vaccination plan for his first 100 days at the White House, doubling the target and promising to deliver 200 million doses. 

In Brazil, record numbers keep being broken. In the past 24 hours, the country has surpassed, for the first time in the pandemic, 100,000 cases of infection and 2,777 deaths in a single day. 

The worsening of the pandemic in Brazil coincides with an increasing number of infections with the Brazilian variant in neighbouring countries. 

The Pan American Health Organization said it had recorded a peak in cases in the Venezuelan states of Bolivar and Amazonas, as well as in the departments of Pando, Bolivia, and Loreto, Peru, all regions bordering with the Portuguese-speaking country.

In India, 257 deaths and 59,118 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, a new high in the last five months. This is the second consecutive day that the country counts more than 50 thousand daily infections, confirming the rising curve of the pandemic and reaching the worst record since October 2020.



Almost all health professionals at the Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Ocidental followed in a study by the Gulbenkian Institute of Science developed antibodies “expressively” three weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was taken. 

The results of this study also indicate that the increase in antibodies at the level of mucous membranes, the main source of contagion and transmission of the disease, was “insignificant”, which led researchers to recommend that the interval between doses should not be increased. 

Meanwhile, Pfizer has announced the start of clinical trials of the vaccine in children over six months and under 11 years old, with the first results expected by the beginning of 2022.

A study released in the USA reveals that pregnant and breastfeeding women immunized against COVID-19 with messenger RNA vaccines have high levels of antibodies that protect them against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Furthermore, vaccines confer immunity to newborns through breast milk and the placenta, where antibodies are also found.

A study has also been published that reveals the presence of the new coronavirus in the gums of some patients who died of COVID-19. The discovery is the result of a study by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo.



The Portuguese balance of public accounts in 2020 reached 5.7% of the GDP. 

“The Government’s financing requirement reached 11,501 million euros, which corresponded to 5.7% of GDP”, reads in the first notification of the excessive deficits procedure published today. 

The negative value follows Portugal’s first budgetary surplus since it is a democracy. For the next year, INE (PT statistic bureau) estimates a still negative balance of 4.3%. 

The debt will have reached 133.6% of GDP in 2020 (116.8% in 2019). 

The forecasts released by the European Commission at the end of last year pointed to a negative budget balance of 7.3% of GDP in 2020. More pessimistic were the IMF forecasts and the OECD predicted a deficit of 8.4% and 7.9 % of GDP for the Portuguese economy in 2020.

In the Social Security sector, the overall balance registered a surplus of 431.9 million euros in February. Effective revenue grew by almost 70 million euros while spending increased by more than 578 million, mainly due to the pandemic and the extraordinary measures taken to face the crisis.

Companies that have resorted to state-backed bank loans to deal with the economic impacts of the pandemic have until March 31st to ask the bank to extend the capital grace period. This additional support, promised by the Government, can cover 71 thousand companies, according to Banco Português de Fomento, which assumed the guarantees granted by the mutual guarantee companies that, in 2020, mediated these credit operations.

Yesterday, the Ministers’ Council approved a diploma that extends until the end of the year the flexibility in the entry and exit hours of workers to avoid gatherings, to combat the pandemic of COVID-19.  

Remote work is mandatory whenever possible throughout the country and failure to comply with this rule is considered a very serious infraction, with fines exceeding 61 thousand euros for non-complying companies.

Banco de Portugal published data on economic activity in Portugal yesterday, which registered, in the third week of March, slight signs of recovery. 

The daily economic activity indicator calculated by the central bank started to show a positive variation compared to the same period last year. INE data show that Portuguese households saved 12.8 euros for every hundred euros of disposable income in 2020, almost five euros more than they saved in 2019.  

The household savings rate increased to 12.8% of the available income in the fourth quarter of last year, 1.8% more than in the third quarter of 2020.



The Lisbon Stock Exchange is gaining 0.98% to 4,810.33 points in today’s session. 

Outside, the main European markets were also on the positive ground: Frankfurt was up 0.93%, Madrid was up 0.83%, Paris was up 0.57%.

The US stock market, on the other hand, experienced a recovery at the end of yesterday, with investors buying shares that are likely to perform well, in anticipation that the economy appears to have the possibility of growth. 

President Joe Biden cited the Department of Labor’s data as economic progress, which showed a decreasing number of Americans asking for unemployment benefits. For some analysts, it was this fact that allowed the main indices to “turn around” and leave the negative ground.