On Wednesday, Graça Freitas admitted that Portugal may again face a new wave of the covid-19 pandemic in the coming months. The epidemiologist Manuel Carmo Gomes repeats the alert from the Director-General of Health.
Portugal may face a new wave of contagions when it enters the phase of deflation, the epidemiologist warned this Thursday Manuel Carmo Gomes, considering the greater transmissibility of the new variants of SARS-CoV-2 to be of concern.
“Portugal is not free of a fourth wave“, He told the Lusa the scientist, according to whom, although the new infections are decreasing every day in the country, the pace is now “slower” and the Rt itself [índice de transmissibilidade], which is below 1, “has been rising slowly, which means that we are reactivating the number of contagions”.
“We are no longer moving towards 0 and we are moving towards a plateau”, he stressed.
For the specialist from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, this year’s pandemic experience has already shown that “when we start to suspect, it is inevitable that the number of contagions will increase”.
Manuel Carmo Gomes warned that, at this stage, the concern is that contagions “can increase faster”Due to the presence of the three new variants, taking into account that“ the mutations cause the virus to transmit more ”.
For the specialist, the presence of the variant detected in the United Kingdom “Is one of the reasons” that explain the exponential increase in cases in January. The researcher maintained that, in the case of this variant, science has already demonstrated that there is a “greater transmissibility”, since the people infected by it “have a higher viral load in the upper respiratory tract”.
As for the variant detected in Brazil, there are indications, still to be validated by the scientific community, that “there are reinfections in the Manaus region due to this variant, which is a cause for concern” and that “the protection afforded by the oldest variant of the virus is only partial”.
Regarding the variant detected for the first time in the South Africa, he warned, in addition to greater transmissibility, it can also reinfect those who have already been affected.
In addition, in the case of the English variant, there is already “sufficient evidence (evidence) to say that in people who are hospitalized the risk of death is higher if they are infected with the variant than the older virus”.
For these reasons, Manuel Carmo Gomes defended that the deflection must be done by phases, based on an assessment of the impact of each of these phases and without pre-established timetables.
Regarding the vaccination process, Manuel Carmo Gomes explained that it should cover “more people in the shortest time” to avoid an increase in hospitalizations, if you have to face a new wave of contagions.
One of the hypotheses to accelerate the process is lengthen “for six weeks” the period between the first and the second shot of the vaccine. “If we do that, we have the possibility to vaccinate tens of thousands of fragile people, who can be hospitalized if they are infected, in a shorter period of time”, he maintained.
Manuel Carmo Gomes also defended the extension of the vaccine AstraZeneca “To all ages, namely from 65 years old”.
“In my view, we are going late in this direction, because the evidence (scientific information) tells us that AstraZeneca provides very high protection for people over 80, particularly against hospitalizations,” he said.