Friday, May 28t | COVID-19 Daily Update
Over the last 24 hours, 598 new cases of COVID-19 infection and one death were registered in Portugal, according to data provided by the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS).
According to today’s epidemiological bulletin, there are currently a total of 847,604 confirmed cases and 17,023 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Concerning recovered patients, another 515 were recorded, which makes the total number grow to 804,047. The national and continental R (t) is 1.07.
PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The Minister of State and the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, announced yesterday, after the meeting of the Ministers’ Council, that the Government decided to extend the calamity situation in the national territory until June 13, in the scope of the fight against the pandemic.
The Assistant Secretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales, said that criteria such as vaccination, variants, and pressure on hospitals can be considered when evaluating a new model of the COVID-19 transmissibility risk matrix.
The matter was debated today at the meeting of experts, at Infarmed, where they sustained that the current matrix is maintained.
On that occasion, the epidemiologist Manuel Carmo Gomes, professor at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, mentioned that the Indian variant is the one that raises more concerns at the moment, being that it represents 5% of the cases. The epidemiologist Baltazar Nunes, on the other hand, considered that Portugal has a “controlled epidemiological situation”, while the epidemiologist Henrique Barros believes that the country may be experiencing a turning point in the pandemic for an endemic disease situation.
At this time, the age group most affected by the pandemic in Portugal is that of “young adults”. André Peralta Santos, from DGS, says that “the highest incidence is now in the 20 to 29 age group and also in the 30 to 40 age group”.
The same specialist warns that there were 272 people infected after the complete vaccination. These cases with people over 80 led to 15 hospitalizations, but there were no deaths.
Portugal may lose 3.6 million vaccines because of restrictions related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine imposed by DGS. In practice, vaccines can reach the country, but they are not applicable, since people over 50 years old will be almost all vaccinated.
The presence of more than 16,000 English supporters in the city of Porto, to watch the final of the Champions League, may represent an added danger in the spread of the Indian variant, warns Ricardo Mexia, president of the National Association of Public Health Medical Doctors.
With the vaccination process, Portugal saved not only lives but also money. According to the estimates of those responsible for the COVID-19 Insights project, 4.8 million euros were saved by the NHS in just five months of vaccination. Without vaccines, approximately 730 more people would have died and around 27,000 would have been infected with the new coronavirus.
The pandemic caused a drop in the overall performance index in most health centres, warned the Portuguese Guild of Medical Doctors, which attributed this reduction to the displacement of general practitioners to COVID-19 related functions.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
Vaccination for those over 18 in France will start next Monday, but the appointments started as early as yesterday, at a time when the country approved in the National Assembly the exit from the state of emergency.
Germany, on the other hand, wants to vaccinate children between 12 and 16 years old from the 7th of June. Angela Merkel said that children and adolescents can ask to be vaccinated after all the priority ones have been vaccinated.
The Spanish Ministry of Health confirmed that, of the nearly five million doses administered, four people have already died in Spain as a result of thrombosis after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine. A fifth death is being investigated, when the country has so far registered 20 cases of thrombosis.
Meanwhile, Unicef will receive 220 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, aiming to immunize 110 million children, announced the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The supply and delivery of the Russian vaccine are, however, subject to the World Health Organization (WHO) authorization for this emergency use procedure.
India recorded less than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 for the second time this week, with 186,000 infections in the past 24 hours, the lowest since April 14th. The country also counted 3,660 dead, two hundred fewer than the day before. The rate of positivity in the diagnostic tests for the new coronavirus dropped to 10.9% when just one month ago it was 20.6%.
News agency AFP’s balance sheet shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has already caused at least 3,500,321 deaths worldwide, resulting from more than 168.3 million cases of infection.
May was the worst month of the pandemic in East-Timor, where the Parliament authorized the President of the Republic to declare the 14th period of the state of emergency, which will run until the beginning of July.
Still, in the Portuguese-speaking world, Cape Verde will receive 100,000 doses of a vaccine against COVID-19 next week, donated by the Government of Hungary. The African country should also receive 31,200 doses in the next few days through the Covax mechanism and expects 300,000 doses provided by China, to speed up the vaccination process.
The National Institute of Health Ricardo Jorge will participate in a pilot study by WHO aimed at establishing the first international control for the SARS-CoV-2 antigen, the institution announced this Thursday.
The study will allow WHO to produce reference material that makes it possible to compare results between different tests. The results will later be used to measure the performance of antigen research tests by the producers, but also by the laboratories that perform them for the diagnosis of COVID-19.
Epidemiologist Baltazar Nunes, from the National School of Public Health, today highlighted the high rate of effectiveness of vaccines that use mRNA technology, as is the case of Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, in the age group above 80 years.
In addition, a report by the UK public health agency confirmed the effectiveness of the vaccines of AstraZeneca and Pfizer also against the Indian variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus but warned that only the second dose of vaccination actually gives an effective immunization against this variant, as in people with just one dose the effectiveness drops to 33%.
Two recent studies, which considered people who had been infected with the coronavirus a year earlier, concluded that immunity to the virus could last for years or even their entire lives.
And also that vaccination helps immunity to last longer, as the two pieces of research suggest that the majority of those recovered from the disease and who were vaccinated against COVID-19 should not need reinforcements later.
The Council of Public Finances points to chronic underbudgeting in the NHS, with continuous deviations between 2014 and 2020. Expenditure reached its highest level in the past year, reveals a report on the evolution of NHS performance. The entity regrets that the savings planned by the Government for the NHS in the successive State Budgets since 2017 are not known.
The pharmaceutical industry has grown in Portugal, doubled exports in a decade, and invests more in research, but the Secretary of State for the State and Economy, João Neves, says that greater ambition is needed. In an interview, he added that there are opportunities to be seized, due to the new post-pandemic environment and the resources that Portugal will have available.
The Economy Minister said yesterday in Brussels that Portugal has to ensure the safe entry of tourists. A total of 21 member states have the infrastructures ready for the use of the European Union’s COVID-19 digital certificate, progress that, according to Pedro Siza Vieira, along with that of the vaccination campaign, will help “face the future with confidence, and the normalization of our social and economic life”.
The Competitiveness Council adopted recommendations for relaunching the tourism sector, including for this summer, particularly affected by the pandemic.
In this context, the opening of trips with the United Kingdom led to an increase in turnover in Portugal, and in the case of the Algarve, this increase was 13% in the week in which British citizens were able to return to our country. In the last week, there was an 80% increase in billing from British payment cards across the country compared to the previous week.
In addition, consumer confidence and economic climate indicators continued to rise “significantly” in May, similarly to the previous two months, exceeding the levels of the beginning of the pandemic, the INE reported today.
Regarding retail sales, they increased 28.3% in April compared to the same month of 2020, which is explained by the situation of confinement experienced in April of last year, revealed the institute.
In the middle of today’s session, the Lisbon Stock Exchange continued on positive ground, maintaining the trend of openness and in line with its European counterparts.
The PSI-20 was up 0.04% to 5,250.87 points. Among the main European markets, the German DAX gained 0.52%, the French CAC 40 rose 0.60%, the Spanish IBEX 35 rose 0.36%, and the British FTSE 100, which grew 0.24%.
The interest on the Portuguese debt was rising this morning to two, five, and ten years compared to yesterday, in line with those of Spain, Greece, Ireland, and Italy.