@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood
Portugal: 18+ Can Book Boosters Online
Updated: Jan 29, 2022
“This is how pandemics end; two ‘echo’ waves each being less and less significant” said immunologist Dr. James R. Baker, Jr.
Self-scheduling expanded to those 18 and older for the COVID-19 booster shot on January 27, according to CNN Portugal.
This age group must have completed the primary regime five months ago and not been infected with COVID-19 for at least five weeks, reported CNN Portugal (January 27).
Others eligible to sign-up online are those 50 and older for a booster shot and a flu vaccine.
In addition, those 40 and older may attend their vaccine center for a COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment in the Casa Aberta (Open House) program, according to the General Directorate of Health (DGS) (January 29). Others eligible for the walk-in service are those 50 and older for a flu vaccine and those 18 and older who have received a Janssen (Johnson & Johnson vaccine 90 days ago.
Dr. James R. Baker, Jr., a respected immunologist at the University of Michigan, was optimistic in his Pandemic Pondering (December 31, 2021) blog for the new year:
“I am predicting that 2022 is the year that the COVID-19 pandemic burns out.”
On January 23, 92 percent of Portugal’s population of 10.3 million had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; 89.1 percent had been vaccinated fully, and 42.9 percent had received a booster, according to Our World in Data.
Portugal became one of the most vaccinated countries in the world in October 2021.
The National Health System (SNS) reported that the Omicron variant, which is even more transmissible than the previous Delta variant, is responsible for 92.5 percent of infections recorded in Portugal, according to the Expresso ( January 7).
Worldwide, the 5.5 million excess deaths from COVID-19 are about 10% of the 50 million deaths from flu in 1918-1919. That pandemic was ‘managed’ with ‘natural’ immunity. Thus, the improved outcome is in no small part due to vaccines,” said Dr. Baker.
There are 968,672 people isolating themselves because of infection or contact with an infected person, reported Publico (January 23). The figure is more than 9 percent of the population and surpasses the predictions of specialists.
The numbers show the impact of the pandemic on society despite the much-reduced numbers of deaths and hospitalizations of January. The DGS has been warning of the increased pressure on hospitals and health services. According to the most recent report, there is an epidemic activity of “very high intensity” with a growing trend at the national level, reported Publico (January 23).
The DGS reported 30 deaths and 45,569 new cases on January 23. It is the first time in four days that Portugal reported fewer than 50,000 new daily cases. However, the cases reported on a Sunday tend to be lower due to a lower volume of testing and communication of results.
There are 2,219 people hospitalized, 192 more than the previous day. Of these 160 are in intensive care, according to Publico (January 23).
“Vaccines may be less effective at preventing infection and transmission of Omicron than they were for previous variants, but they still are exceptionally good at preventing serious disease and death,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Mathematicians at the Instituto Superior Tecnico predicted that the peak of cases will be reached during the week of February 6 through February 12, reported commentator Luis Marques Mendes on SIC Noticias (January 23).
This year’s figures are in stark contrast with those of January 2021.
Last year, hospital admissions were so high that 45 ambulances lined up on January 28, 2021, at a Lisbon hospital waiting for admission, according to SIC Noticias (January 30, 2021). Treatment of some of the patients was done inside the ambulances. Mortuaries struggled to make room for bodies, and funerals were booked later than usual.
There were a total of 16,351 deaths as of March 1, 2021, reported Itatiaia.
In the second wave, Portugal reached a daily peak of 98 deaths and 6,000 new cases. By December 16, 2020, there were a total of 5,815 deaths and 358, 296 cases, according to DGS.
In the first wave during the spring of 2020, Portugal was recognized as having far fewer infections and deaths than many other countries. From June 11 to June 19, 2020, for example, there were seven or fewer deaths and between 227 and 723 new daily confirmed cases. By June 19, 2020, there were a total of 1,527 deaths and 38, 464 cases, reported DGS.
Deaths in the United Kingdom from the 1917 flu followed the same pattern of two surges.
Along with his optimistic outlook for the year, the immunologist, Dr. Baker, wrote:
“That doesn’t mean there won’t be SARS-Co-V-2 infections in the coming year, or that news outlets won’t breathlessly announce every new variant. It means that by some time in 2022, for practical day-to-day activities, COVID-19 will not define our actions.
”We have been focused on number of infections with COVID-19 because of the very sensitive and accurate diagnostic tests (PCR) we have developed. In contrast, as we look at the end of the pandemic, we now need to focus less on infections and more on deaths. That is truly the important marker of a pandemic’s impact and the only comparable measure to the 1917 flu epidemic where there were no diagnostic tests.
“In the 1917 flu pandemic, after the initial burst of infections and deaths, two waves of deaths followed, each one less impactful. This is how pandemics end: two ‘echo’ waves each being less and less significant. It is because in each wave the most susceptible individuals have been killed off. As the rest of the population develops immunity. A similar pattern was seen in the 2011 influenza. This pattern shows the COVID-19 pandemic is burning out.
“While the pandemic has had horrific costs, we have accomplished much with advanced care, vaccines and therapeutics. All immunity is the same whether from vaccine or virus.
“The concept of ‘natural immunity’ being better is just not valid. Worldwide, the 5.5 million excess deaths from COVID-19 are about 10% of the 50 million deaths from flu in 1918-1919. That pandemic was ‘managed’ with ‘natural’ immunity. Thus, the improved outcome is in no small part due to vaccines.”