Due to the new corona virus in the deflation phase, Portugal could be exposed to a new wave of contagion, warned epidemiologist Manuel Carmo Gomes on Thursday of the better transferability of the new variants of SARS-CoV-2.
“Portugal is not free from a fourth wave,” the scientist told the Lusa agency, according to which, although the pace “is decreasing every day in the country, the pace is now” slower “and the Rt itself [índice de transmissibilidade], which is below 1, “has increased slowly, which means that we are reactivating the number of infections”.
“We are no longer moving in the direction of 0 and moving in the direction of a plateau,” he emphasized.
For the specialist in the Faculty of Science at the University of Lisbon, the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic this year has already shown that “if we start to suspect that the number of infections will inevitably increase”.
Manuel Carmo Gomes warned that there was concern at this stage that the presence of the three new variants could cause contagion to “increase faster”, bearing in mind that “mutations make the virus transmit more”.
For the specialist, the presence of the variant found in the UK is “one of the reasons” that explains the exponential increase in cases in January.
The researcher claimed that in the case of the UK variant, science had already shown that there was “greater transmissibility” because those infected by it had “higher upper respiratory viral loads”.
With regard to the variant identified in Brazil, there are indications, which have yet to be validated by the scientific community, that “because of this variant, which gives cause for concern, reinfections occur in the Manaus region” and that “protection by the oldest Variant of the virus is only partial. “
With regard to the variant, which was first discovered in South Africa, he warned that in addition to being more easily transmitted, it could also re-infect those who were already affected.
In addition, the English variant already has “sufficient evidence (evidence) to say that people who are hospitalized are at greater risk of death if they are infected with the variant than the older virus”.
For these reasons, Manuel Carmo Gomes argued that deflation must be phased based on assessing the impact of each of those phases and without pre-established schedules.
On Wednesday, General Director of Health Graça Freitas admitted that Portugal could face another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the coming months, despite the ongoing vaccination campaign.
Portugal should vaccinate more people “in the shortest possible time”.
Regarding the vaccination process, Manuel Carmo Gomes stated that “more people should be recorded in the shortest possible time” in order to avoid an increase in hospital admissions when they are exposed to a new wave of contagion. One of the ways to speed up the process is to increase the time between first and second vaccine intake to “six weeks”.
“If we do that, we will have the opportunity to vaccinate tens of thousands of fragile people who can be hospitalized if they are infected, in less time,” he said.
Manuel Carmo Gomes also defended the expansion of AstraZeneca vaccine intake “to all age groups, namely 65 and over”. “I think we’re late in this direction because the evidence (scientific information) tells us that (the AstraZeneca vaccine) provides very high levels of protection for people over 80, especially from hospitalization,” he said.