The Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, has authorised the purchase of 6.9 million individual vaccines, costing the state €20 million, in a European Union coordinated move to control the pandemic.
In a press statement, while visiting a hospital in Vila Nova de Gaia the Prime Minster said:
“The European Union (EU) has coordinated a joint acquisition of vaccines for its member states and today during an online Council of Ministers meeting, we, Portugal, have authorised the acquisition of the first batch of six million and 900 thousand vaccines. The EU has selected six of the various vaccines that are currently under development at world level, as the six vaccines that offer the best potential, and therefore, worth investing in.”
In Gaia, António Costa, who was accompanied by the Minister of Health, Marta Temido further explained that “today (20.08), is an important day because we have taken a fundamental step towards the day when a scientifically proven and produced vaccine, that has been properly marketed, distributed is accessible to the population. Until this moment, we only have two options, general immunisation of the population or treatment.
Optimists believe that at the end of this year the first batches of the vaccine will be ready and safe to use. The realists have to believe that the optimists are right, but we have to prepare ourselves for all eventualities. Until there is a general immunisation of the population or a treatment for this disease, we have to be prepared for the worst so that we can do our best.”
When asked to discuss the Directorate-General of Health (DGS) role within the scope of a vaccine becoming readily available, the PM went on to say that he trusts that the DGS will define the criteria to create a progressive, universal and free vaccination for the Portuguese population, ensuring countrywide immunisation.”
He was later asked about what would happen if Portugal suffered a significant second pandemic wave? Responding he said, that Portugal will not be able to go through a second phase of confinement, he then went on to refer to the reopening of schools and said that the future must be faced with “caution and care∗. “The virus is very new and we don’t really know how it behaves. The one thing that we do know is that sickness rates increase during the autumn and winter. We have to prepare ourselves with the awareness that next year we will be able to respond as we did in March when we decided to close schools. But we will not be able to shut down companies, or business activities again, because this means thousands of jobs are at risk, creating a collective destruction of the wealth of our nation and the functionality of our society.”
∗ A study by researchers at the Pediatric Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, United States shows that children play a more important role in spreading Covid-19 than previously thought, as their viral loads are higher than those adults infected with the virus, but despite this, they remain asymptomatic.
The study, involved a 192 children and young people aged from new born to 22 years old. Of these, 49 tested positive for Covid-19 and a further 18 were suffering from a Covid-19 related disease, called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). It causes different parts of the body to become inflamed, and can affect the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
The results of the investigation show that infected children have significantly higher level of the virus in their respiratory tract than those adults hospitalised in Covid-19 Intensive Care Units (ICU). However, despite children having fewer immune receptors, which technically would make them more susceptible to infection or seriously ill, they are viral load carriers, making them more contagious, regardless of their susceptibility to Covid-19.
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