Portugal will receive 23 million more doses of vaccines than expected

Portugal will receive 23 million more doses of vaccines than expected
Portugal will receive 23 million more doses of vaccines than expected
In December, before announcing the Vaccination Plan against Covid-19, the Minister of Health came to affirm that Portugal planned to spend a total of 200 million euros, which corresponded to about 22 million doses of vaccines. At the beginning of March, Marta Temido announced that, after all, there would be 38 million doses of vaccines, which would even allow support for other countries, but without mentioning the cost to the country.

This Wednesday, during the hearing in the parliamentary committees on Health and Follow-up on the Application of Response Measures to the Pandemic Disease Covid-19, the task force coordinator, Vice Admiral Gouveia e Melo, confirmed that there will be 35.8 after all. million doses, of these 6.5 million are from AstraZeneca which corresponds to almost 18 million vaccines, since the most purchased, Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, involve taking two doses.

The DN contacted the task force and the Ministry of Health to get an answer on what led to this increase in vaccine purchases and how much it will cost the country more, but did not get an answer until the time of the closing of this edition. At the outset, the acquisition of more vaccines is a positive sign, it remains to be seen how they will be distributed in terms of risk groups.

At the hearing, Vice Admiral Gouveia e Melo defended the inclusion of other priority groups in the Vaccination Plan, namely that of “young people with very critical illnesses”, arguing that these are not covered by the priority criterion of age and that “they should be pulled forward “.

Gouveia e Melo explained that this is his opinion and that he has transmitted it to the Directorate-General for Health (DGS): “If these diseases are very critical, regardless of whether the person is younger, they may be highly vulnerable in the pandemic.” Maintaining that this is the type of matters that the task force has to deal with. “This is what we have to treat, to find diseases that are attacking very young groups and that may not be affected by the age criterion and that must be considered.”

The vice-admiral, who for several hours answered the questions of the deputies present at the hearing requested by the PSD, used the example of young people as an argument that there are more priority groups than others who claim to be considered priority, such as physiotherapists, higher education teachers or essential service workers.

On the part of the deputies there was no question about the recommendation that the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Control for health professionals and elderly people over 80 years infected for more than 90 days to be vaccinated. The argument is that people who contracted the disease at the start of the pandemic at this point may no longer have antibodies to prevent reinfection. This alert was also made by the Medical Association this week, but about which there is still no decision.

The good news is that, if there are no more setbacks, the first phase of vaccination should be completed by April 11, but there is still a concern to identify “40 thousand people who live in bed or isolated in the country and who should be vaccinated”. For this mission, the task force counts on the help of municipalities, parishes and GNR.

There are still 300,000 people to vaccinate in the first phase

In total, and according to the data made available to the DN on Tuesday by the task force, about 300 thousand people from the first phase are still to be vaccinated. Gouveia e Melo acknowledged to the deputies that “scheduling and invitations are a high concern in organizational terms”, however highlighting the work that is being done to “improve data” and the creation of alternatives, such as self-scheduling. Before the parliamentarians, the vice admiral admitted:

“Things were not prepared. If anyone thinks that everything was prepared, they were not. The country was not prepared to give 20 million vaccines in about six months. There are a number of adaptations that are being made at a very fast pace and they also have flaws and we have to live with them. If anyone thinks that this process is going to be flawless, they are thinking badly, for sure, and demanding things that are impossible to do. ”

Coordinating the task force since the departure of the former Secretary of State for Health Francisco Ramos, the navy officer assumed that he is “managing to respond, with difficulties and concerns, but there is a strong commitment, both from the Ministry of Health and the professionals on the ground. I don’t have to complain about anything. “

At the moment, he says, “I am concerned with implementing a plan that vaccinates 100 thousand people daily and that manages to go up to 150 thousand. This is not a 100-meter run, but a marathon”. Regarding the hiring of the human resources needed to reinforce the operation in the second quarter – estimated at “around 2500 nurses, 400 doctors and 2300 assistants” -, he ensures that “there is a green light for hiring” and highlighted the critical nature of this process for the country.

“The resources will have to appear and be made available to do this task. I don’t think there will be a big problem; of course there will be problems in hiring, preparation, how the contracts will be, but this is also a problem with the which I can’t worry about right now. As long as the resources are made available, my main concern is to organize those resources. “

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