Archive for January, 2021

COVID-19 INSA Report shows rapid increase in R (t) trends in Portugal

Monday, January 11th, 2021

The National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA), from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, the official body that monitors the incidence and transmissibility of the disease, published on Friday a report on R (t) trend in Portugal. “From mid-November until December 25, the average value of R (t) – the number of effective reproduction – remained below 1”, but in six days it shot up to 1.19.

An indicator that, according to INSA, clearly reflects “a rapid change in the epidemiological situation” in the country. In other words, “it went from a phase of sustained downward trend to the current phase of marked growth in the number of new cases, which has been maintained since December 26th”.

In the technical document, the institute explains that the average value that was recorded since the middle of November and that it represented a phase of sustained decrease in the incidence of infection, much because of the restrictive measures taken at that time by the government, changed to an inverse situation right at day after Christmas. “There was a sharp increase in R (t) in a few days (six), from 0.98 (25.12) to 1.19 (30.12), that is, an increase of 0.21”, says INSA.

According to the institute’s analysis, as of December 26, all regions recorded high average R (t) values: “The following R (t) values ​​were estimated for the regions with the most cases – 1.15 in the region north, 1.23 in the central region, 1.21 in the LVT region, 1.21 in the Alentejo region, 1.29 in the Algarve region, 1.24 in the autonomous region of the Azores and 1.21 in the autonomous region of Madeir a “.

Average values ​​only comparable to those reached at the peak of the second wave, in November, and at the beginning of the pandemic, between February 21 and March 16, 2020. Here, the value of R (t) reached 2.2, but because the “population was susceptible and public health measures were residual”.

The report can also read that since the beginning of the epidemic, the R (t) estimate varied between 0.79 and 2.15, with a downward trend observed since March 12, 2020, when the closing of schools, which became more pronounced after March 16 when the closing occurred and on March 18 with the announcement of the state of emergency. The R (t) increased again from 28 April, exceeding the value of the first half of May. From July 11 onwards, it falls below 1 and remains so until August 5th. From then until mid-November it was above 1 for 107 days.

Dated 8 January, the document reflects an analysis that reports data obtained until 3 January 2021, which already indicated that we are facing “a growing trend of new cases at the national level, in all regions of the country”, with the Center and Alentejo region under great pressure.

Since then, the trend has always been towards a worsening, in such a way, that the estimates point to the possibility that the duplication of positive cases could occur in just 13 days. “The estimated time to double the incidence of SARS-CoV-2, based on the incidence of the last 15 days, was 13 days, with this value between 11 and 17 days with 95% confidence.” That is, that of the ten thousand cases the country can move to twenty thousand daily cases in just two weeks. It was this value that set off all the alarms, as well as the number of deaths, which this week reached 118.However, estimates for next week, according to the mathematical models used by INSA and the Faculty of Sciences, point to a number of daily cases of around 12 thousand and 120 deaths.

Such estimates draw the worst scenario for this month of January in terms of responding to covid-19. “It is a serious and worrying scenario”, they explained to the DN, but it is this data that will be taken by INSA technicians to Tuesday’s meeting with the government at Infarmed, and already with a safeguard: that the next report will bring a more reality serious, given the increase in the number of cases this week. Since Wednesday, after the announcement that the country had registered 10 027 cases in 24 hours, many are calling for general confinement. The government has listened to political parties and social consultation, and everything indicates that this will be enacted from 15 January.

This is, in fact, the solution most demanded by Health, with the argument that the hospital and primary care units have reached the red line of their capacity. For specialists in public health and intensive care medicine “there is no National Health Service that can handle an average of ten thousand cases”. Of these, about 10% will get to hospital wards and 3% to intensive care.

Source DN: Original in Portuguese here:

 

 

 

PRIME MINISTERS ADDRESS TO THE NATION

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

EXTENSION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY TO 15th JANUARY 23.59 HRS2

At the end of the Council of Ministers meeting, António Costa announced that an extension of the existing rules for the next seven days had been approved.

At the end of the Council of Ministers meeting, António Costa announced that an extension of the existing rules for the next seven days had been approved. “As a precautionary measure at the weekend, the prohibition on movement between municipalities apply to the entire continental national territory between 11 pm on January 8 and 5 am on January 11, 2021, except for health, urgent or other reasons specifically provided for.

Extend to the municipalities at high risk (in addition to Very and Extreme municipalities) the ban on driving on public roads from 1 pm on the weekend of 9 and 10 January;

The Prime Minister specifies that only 25 municipalities have fewer than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, so only those are not on the tightest restrictions list – but the scenario is set to change next week.

These are the municipalities that are on the list of those with less than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants: Alcoutim, Aljezur, Almeida, Arronches, Barrancos, Carrazeda de Ansiães, Castanheira de Pêra, Castelo de Vide, Coruche, Ferreira do Alentejo, Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Lagoa, Manteigas, Monchique, Odemira, Pampilhosa da Serra, Proença-a-Nova, Resende, Santiago do Cacém, Sardoal, Sernancelhe, Sines, Torre de Moncorvo, Vila de Rei and Vila do Bispo.

António Costa said that an emergency meeting had already been called for this Friday to assess “if necessary, the adoption of measures on the 12th that would correspond to a worsening of the situation.

A meeting with experts is scheduled for the 12th, which will assess the impact of the relaxation of Christmas measures on the daily numbers of new infections.

Asked by journalists what the most restrictive measures planned for next week would be if the pandemic developed negatively, António Costa stressed that he would also listen to the social partners and political parties.

About schools, he says, “there is a large consensus among technicians and experts that it is not justified to affect the functioning of the school year” as last year.

He acknowledges, however, that more restrictive measures for weekends could also be applied to weekdays. In other words, it does not exclude the possibility of adopting “more general containment measures” such as those adopted in March.

The prime minister stressed that hope “is the last thing to die” and that the possibility should be left open that yesterday’s and today’s figures may only be an adjustment of the last few weeks.

“I don’t want to anticipate measures. Hope is the last to die, we must have hope”, he stresses.

But if the data up to the 12th confirm a negative development, “it is clear that what needs to be done must be done”, he reiterates.

“We cannot put at risk the enormous effort that has been made so far”, he adds.

António Costa says that, at a time when vaccination is already underway, at a time “when we already know that this tunnel has an end, we cannot be wasting what we have conquered”.

Asked whether the presidential elections will continue in the face of the new measures, António Costa explains: “The law on the state of emergency does not allow any kind of restriction to political activity”.

“There are conditions for the electoral act to take place in complete safety, even if the state of emergency measures are in place”, the Prime Minister stressed.

“When we adopted the measures for this month, we immediately assumed that by lowering the level of restriction during Christmas, it was natural that afterwards there would be some increase in transmission, even if most families adopted, as I believe they did, the preventive measures,” explained António Costa.

“Yesterday’s and today’s numbers are very different from what we had at the beginning of the week, when we had about 4,500 cases. There was a doubling of the numbers in two days,” the Prime Minister noted.

“We have to see what is the effect of increased circulation, the effect of most people during the holiday season having tested less,” says Costa, stressing that 91 percent of the cases are tests carried out the day before yesterday and therefore “are very recent”.

António Costa considers, therefore, that there are “several factors” that can explain the increase in cases and prefers to wait for the 12th “to have reliable data”.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the different levels of restrictions and the uncertainty about what the next decisions will be contribute to some confusion about the unpredictability of the measures, but added that it is “necessary” since the unpredictability results from the need to adopt measures that are proportional to each state of development of the pandemic, in order “to disrupt people’s lives and the economy as little as possible and to be as effective in containment as possible”.

SOURCE: RTP and PÚBLICO.

 

 

The ten numbers of the last state of emergency. From arrests to covid-19 in schools

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

On December 23, records of tests carried out were broken. In the first period, 800 classes took distance classes. Six people were arrested for the crime of disobedience. These and other figures on the sixth state of exception that took effect from 9 December.

This Wednesday afternoon, Parliament is debating the new state of emergency declared by the President of the Republic and validated by the Government. It will be the eighth and will last less than the previous ones, effective only between the 8th and 15th of January, while there is no new data on the evolution of contagions.

The same plenary session in which deputies will evaluate and vote on Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s proposal will serve to present the report on the sixth state of emergency – from 9 to 23 December. There are at least ten numbers to retain in the document sent to Parliament:

0.93

The report on the state of emergency always starts by portraying the epidemiological situation and this is no exception. One of the revealed data is the R (t) – average number of infections caused by each infected person -, which was always above 1 (national average)  between 5 August and 23 November and which fell to 0.93 in the days before Christmas (21 to 25). There is still to be retained the decrease in hospitalizations (451 fewer cases), including four fewer people hospitalized in intensive care.

51.5%

It was in the northern region of the country that, in percentage, more new cases were registered in the period of validity of the sixth state of emergency: 51.5%. In the Lisbon and Vale do Tejo area, the percentage was 32.2 points and 11.2 in the center. The remaining regions were always below these figures: Alentejo represented 2.6% of new cases; Algarve 1.8%; Azores 0.4%; and Madeira 0.3%.

9000

In the work carried out by the National Subcommittee on Civil Protection, created within the scope of covid-19, the representative of the Ministry of Education reported the existence of more than 9000 positive cases in the school community , since the beginning of the academic year. In all, this means that 800 classes had teaching activity not in person. It was the first time that an assessment of the first school period was made.

58,686

As of 23 December 2020, the number of covid-19 tests carried out in the country amounted to almost 5.5 million, 567,042 of which were carried out during the sixth state of emergency (including 65,328 rapid antigen tests). But there is another fact to note: December 23 was the day when more tests were carried out since the beginning of the pandemic, more precisely 58,686.

379

Most of the 379 fines recorded in the 15 days of the sixth state of emergency concerned non-compliance with the rules of occupation, permanence and distance in places open to the public. The fines were distributed as follows: 77 in the municipalities of moderate risk; 169 in high-risk patients; and 133 in very high and extreme risk. Six people were also arrested for the crime of disobedience and 40 establishments were closed.

65%

Among the supervised transport companies, it was STCP that presented the highest levels of demand between 9 and 23 December, in comparison with the data for 2019: 65%. This is followed by Transtejo / Soflusa, with 62%, Metro do Porto (59%) and Metro de Lisboa (38 %).

50

Flights registered between the People’s Republic of China and Portugal between March and the end of November to transport medical supplies. Fifteen of these flights operated by TAP allowed the transport of 1181 fans from Beijing to Lisbon .

133,757

Number of passengers controlled at Portuguese air borders (69,950 of which at the entrance and 63,807 at the exit). As for mobile controls at land borders, 886 people, 503 light vehicles and 17 buses were called.

42

The positive cases recorded between 9 and 23 December in the prison system , including 29 workers (22 guards, a health professional, a social reintegration technician and five professionals from other categories) and 13 prisoners. There have already been 778 cases recovered.

129

Number of pages of the report which also confirms, as has been observed, that Friday continues to be a day of particular dynamism in economic terms. The least intense day is Sunday.

 

Covid-19: Four Portuguese scientists clarify any doubts about vaccines in videos

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

The Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM), in Lisbon, launched an information campaign on vaccines against covid-19, in which four scientists clarify any doubts in short videos, the institution announced today.

“How was it possible to develop a vaccine for covid-19 so quickly?”, “Is the vaccine for covid-19 safe?”, “Will the vaccine for covid-19 help restore normality to our lives?” and “Should I get vaccinated for Covid-19?” are the questions that IMM researchers Bruno Silva-Santos, Luís Graça, Miguel Prudêncio and Pedro Simas answer.

The four videos – one for each question – will be available on IMM’s social networks.

On Friday, there will be an open question and answer session broadcast on the YouTube platform, where interested parties “will be able to direct their questions and clarify doubts about the vaccine development process, its safety and effectiveness and the perspective of the pandemic for the next few months, “says the IMM in a statement.

The IMM communication office told Lusa that more explanatory videos will be produced as more questions arise about vaccines on the part of people.

Justifying the initiative, immunologist Bruno Silva-Santos, deputy director of IMM, points out, quoted in the statement, that “this project arises from the urgent need to provide credible information on vaccination for covid-19, which is now starting”.

“Every day we hear doubts and concerns from so many citizens and it is up to us, scientists, to answer with the facts and clinical data that we have”, underlines, in turn, the virologist Pedro Simas.

In the video “How was it possible to develop a vaccine for covid-19 so quickly?”, Immunologist Bruno Silva-Santos responds with technological advances, the efforts of scientists and pharmacists and the immediate evaluation of results by drug regulators.

When asked whether the vaccine is safe, parasitologist Miguel Prudêncio replies that it is “absolutely safe”, has no serious side effects, just triggers normal reactions such as fever, fatigue or pain in the arm.

Virologist Pedro Simas assures that the vaccine for covid-19 “will make it possible to restore normality” to life, since it will make it possible to achieve group immunity against the new coronavirus that causes the infection.

For immunologist Luís Graça, “without a doubt” that people should be vaccinated, it is “a public health imperative” that “will save many lives”.

In Portugal, the vaccination campaign against covid-19 began on December 27 in hospitals, with the inoculation of health professionals. Today it has extended to nursing homes.

The vaccine administered is that of the Pfizer-BioNTech consortium, whose emergency use was approved on December 21 by the European Medicines Agency.

The European regulator is expected to comment on the use of another experimental vaccine, that of the modern biotechnology company, shortly.

Both vaccines are based on the same genetic engineering technology, which was used for the first time in vaccine production.

The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 1,843,631 deaths resulting from more than 85 million cases of infection worldwide, according to a report by the French news agency AFP.

In Portugal, 7,186 people died from 431,623 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.

Covid-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (type of virus) detected in late December 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China.

ER // JMR

British UN diplomat who devised peacekeeping missions dies at 101

Monday, January 4th, 2021

Brian Urquhart was the second diplomat hired by the United Nations after its creation in 1945.

Brian Urquhart, who was the second diplomat hired by the United Nations after its creation in 1945, and who helped shape the organization in the last years of the Cold War, died Saturday in Massachusetts, aged 101.

The news was announced this Monday by his daughter, Rachel Urquhart, to the local press, but without specifying the cause of death.

Urquhart was considered one of the most influential figures in the United Nations, having been a distinguished advisor to five secretaries-general of the organization and idealized the principles on which the UN is based.

Born in Dorset, United Kingdom, in 1919, he was part of the British army during World War II, something that admitted to having taught him all the “very practical idealism” that guided his diplomatic career.

In the mid-1950s, being one of the few with military experience in the team closest to the secretary-general of the time Dag Hammarskjold, he helped carry out UN peacekeeping missions through the creation of the UN Emergency Forces, which , in 1956, were sent to oversee the end of hostilities between Egypt and Israel in the Suez Canal.

UN peacekeeping missions are considered to be his great legacy, although they are not included in the United Nations Charter. These missions, which aim to send armed or unarmed soldiers to accompany the implementation of peace agreements, are now known as the ‘blue helmets’ and continue to be present in various areas of the world that are in crisis.

Although Urquhart spent much of his career at UN headquarters in New York, he was also a mediator and diplomat in some of the most complicated conflicts the United Nations has followed, such as those in Congo, Cyprus, Kashmir, Namibia and the Middle East.

His role at the UN was recognized this Monday by the current Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, who said in a statement that “the mark that Brian [Urquhart] left is one of the most profound in the history of the organization”.

“As an adviser to Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, he helped define the scope of UN action in the face of armed conflicts and other global challenges. And as a close assistant to [political scientist] Ralph Bunche, the recognized UN member and Nobel Prize winner. Peace, helped to establish and later to boost peacekeeping missions, “said Guterres.

In addition to his official responsibilities, Sir Brian Urquhart was seen as the unofficial historian of the UN, and he defended the public perception of the organization in his autobiography “A Life in Peace and War”, in addition to writing several reviews for the New York Review of Books.

 

Government of Madeira adopts more restrictive measures to contain an increase in cases

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

The Government of Madeira today approved new measures to contain contagions with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that include a ban on traffic between 11 pm and 5 am, the opening schools and reinforcement of inspection.

In view of the increase in cases of contagion with the new coronavirus verified in the archipelago, the Madeiran executive met with the representatives of the health authorities in the region to decide on the new measures, and no statements were made to the media.

In the statement distributed after the meeting, it can be read: “despite the measures developed by the regional authorities and the collaboration of the population, to ensure public health, at the same time that we seek to keep all regional economic activity in operation, thus protecting the posts work, an increase in the number of cases was confirmed “.

The Regional Government of PSD / CDS coalition says that due to this situation it is “necessary, in the coming days, to introduce more measures, with a view to not spreading the virus”.

“As of 00:00 on January 5, 2021, circulation in the Autonomous Region of Madeira is prohibited in public roads, between 11 pm and 5 am, with the exceptions to be announced tomorrow by the Government Resolution”, stresses the executive in the document.

It also warns that “vaccination is ongoing, but everyone has to maintain the necessary health safety rules, to protect the entire population”.

With regard to the opening of schools in the region, with Madeira having a universe of 52 thousand elements, including student teachers and employees, the regional executive adopted specific measures for the three municipalities with “the highest incidence of cases”, namely, Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava.

In these municipalities, the restart of the courses will take place “progressively”, aiming to allow the health authorities to carry out a “concentrated and dedicated assessment of the situation” and “as the tests are being carried out, the teaching establishments will be opened” , highlights.

According to the perspectives of the Regional Government, in these three municipalities, private public schools must reopen until January 11, while in the remaining educational establishments in the other municipalities, the timetable remains the same, starting classes next Monday (January 4 ).

The island government informs that “the testing teams will start their work on Monday morning, January 4th, in the three identified municipalities, with the aim of tracking the more than 6,000 teachers and educational assistants”.

Due to this situation, “extracurricular activities in Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava will be suspended until January 10, 2021”, with guardians entitled to have a justified lack of work to support their students.

In regional public administration, face-to-face work will be reduced to a minimum, starting on Monday and until January 15.

The Madeiran government also decided to suspend home visits until January 15, continuing the process of testing and vaccinating professionals and users and limiting the maximum mobility of professionals between establishments.

As for bars and restaurants, the opening hours are established until 10:30 pm, “which includes the ‘take-away’ activity and restaurant activity in large areas”.

Another of the decisions made public was the reinforcement of inspection to “guarantee compliance with the rules in force throughout the Region”.

“All of these measures will be the subject of a resolution by the Government Council, which will take place on the morning of Monday, January 4, 2021”, concludes the statement.

Based on the latest data released by the Regional Health Directorate, on Sunday, Madeira recorded 65 new positive cases of covid-19 on Sunday, totaling 734 active situations, of which 558 are locally transmitted.

Covid-19: Increased demand for yoga, pilates, meditation and training with outdoor PT

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

The demand for yoga, pilates, meditation and outdoor or ‘online’ classes with ‘personal trainer’ (PT) increased after confinement due to covid-19 and registration in these modalities continue to increase, reveal several teachers.

Georgina Miranda, North American yoga and meditation teacher in Porto, says that since the emergency of the pandemic was lifted, there has been an increase in demand for yoga and meditation classes, considering that the greatest need for therapies that involve the physical and mental part as a whole is justified by provoking feelings of well-being to people.

People feel “better”, with “more inner power” and “controlling emotions”, even if everything is “crazy” abroad, describes Georgina, who teaches yoga and meditation classes in the center of Porto, in a space called Manna, which receives local practitioners and foreign tourists.

For Georgina, the gift of the yoga practitioner to settle in the present moment is “important”, because it helps him to connect with something bigger than his “I” and his “stress”.

People are “suffocating” with the uncertain future or with “remorse from the past” and yoga helps to enjoy the “now”, he explains.

Diana Freitas confesses that yoga has given her the “strength” and “tranquility” necessary to spend the days with her children at home during the state of emergency and that, now, she does not want to abandon the practice of meditation and yoga. ” which was something that gave me a huge support ”.

The owner of Manna, Hélder Miranda, confirms an increase in demand for therapeutic classes with the pandemic.

With the lack of definition, the presential yoga classes passed and became “sold out” a week or two in advance, he says, noting that there is an increasing demand from German and Nordic tourists in that space located in the heart of the city of Porto, glass walls and a roof that opens to the sky, giving the feeling of being in nature.

Joana Cruz, pilates teacher, balance training, mobility, muscle toning, ‘bodybalance’ and stretching training, says that classes that treat the individual as a whole (body and mind) are “gaining ground” to other modalities.

“Holistics [yoga, pilates, bodybalance] bring people tranquility that other classes don’t. When they enter a holistic room they leave it lighter. They take a completely different energy boom ”, he describes, highlighting that, with the lack of definition, the solution to practice physical activity changed from the interior of the gymnasiums to the outdoors.

Exercise in public parks, beaches, municipal gardens, areas close to the metro or even next to football stadiums has worked well, he says.

“I have been giving pilates classes abroad and I have been increasingly in demand. People are afraid to go back to the gym, to catch the virus”, he describes.

PT Vítor Silva has no doubt that there is a paradigm shift with the covid-19, noting that online classes and outdoor training are here to stay.

“A lot of people found that ‘online’ works for them, which is great” and the ‘outdoor’ in the summer time also “works very well”, because there are sun and green spaces in Porto.

Laura Silva, a student who opted for online and outdoor training with PT, says she dropped out of the gym because of the state of emergency.

“During quarantine I always took [classes] via virtual. Then, when the restrictions were lifted, I started to do it without being a virtual route because I like being in contact with nature and being with the teacher present ”, he says, adding that doing physical exercise outdoors is much more“ challenging ”.

“I feel much better and can manage my schedule differently from the gym. In most gyms, at peak times, it is difficult to do the exercise or class we want, while on the street we can exercise at any time we want without the constraints without being full of people, especially in this dark time ”.

Patrícia Fonseca, psychologist and PT, reports that, with the lack of definition, her students started to prefer the ‘outdoor’ exercise.

The teacher says that with the arrival of the pandemic, working the students’ bodies and minds with the help of psychology, could be the “perfect junction” of the two professions, because people need a more global response at an especially “challenging” time. .

André Cottim, PT in Porto, maintains that the new paradigm will continue as long as people are afraid, because going to the gym is still “synonymous with contagion”.

“The fear of the unknown and the invisible is very intrinsic in people”, he observes, referring that, the older the age group, the lower the rate of gym goers.

“It is increasingly noticed that people who go to the gym are people, as a general rule, up to 50/55 years old”.

CCM // ACG

Prime Minister New Year’s Message

Friday, January 1st, 2021

The year we will not forget and the New Year we wish to remember

A year ago today I published an extensive article on these pages, which I titled “A Decisive Decade”, in which I stated our ambitious agenda for the decade, around the four major strategic challenges we face: climate change, demographic dynamics, digital transition, inequalities.

Two months later, on March 2, Portugal was diagnosed with the first case of covid-19. From one moment to the next, the world was swept away by a pandemic that decimated lives and created the biggest global economic crisis in our lives. Among us, we already regret the loss of 6906 lives and more than 400 000 people are or have been infected. The public health crisis has had a dramatic effect on all dimensions – personal, family, social, professional – of our lives. And it hit our economy brutally, especially in sectors such as tourism, restaurants, commerce or culture, interrupting a four-year cycle of growth above the Eurozone average, a strong reduction in unemployment, growth in exports, improving incomes, which culminated in the first budgetary surplus of our democracy.

The collective mobilization of the Portuguese, the ability to convert our industry and its workers to the production of individual protection means, the prompt adaptation to teleworking, especially of teachers and students, and the extraordinary dedication of health professionals and professionals and other essential services allowed us to overcome the first wave of the pandemic. It was a year in which we reinforced our sense of belonging to a community that did not give up hope, resisted, fought, which surpassed itself as a nation. And so we continue to contain this second wave and prevent further upsurge.

It is in these moments of crisis that the importance of a robust social state and balanced public finances is emphasized. What would the last months have been like without a public school that, even though closed, ensured by all means the continuity of learning? And without Social Security support lay-off companies, unemployed workers, who created new social benefits to respond to atypical forms of work, reinforced support for homes? And, above all, without the NHS, which from public health to intensive care units responded to an unprecedented pressure in its 41 years? What would it have been like if we could not have increased public spending by € 4107M without having to resort to any tax increase and keeping our external credibility unscathed? Just in the context of extraordinary measures to support employment and family income, we supported more than 2 million people and 150 thousand companies, in a unique public policy effort.

This was also a defining moment for the European project. This time the European institutions were swift and assertive in their response, mainly to the historic decisions of joint purchase of anti-HIV vaccines and the joint issuance of debt to finance an extraordinary program of economic recovery.

I am sure that we will never forget this year of 2020. But we have the opportunity to make 2021 a year that we will want to remember.

Two decisive factors justify our confidence. The first, obviously, is the start of the vaccination process, which requires great international cooperation to ensure that the vaccine reaches all human beings, wherever they reside and whatever their economic and social condition.

 

In the European Union, and consequently in Portugal, the process will be long and will continue until the end of the first quarter of 2022, although the greatest vaccination effort is already concentrated between March and September 2021. If vaccines that are under development succeed, if those that are already approved are approved, if no mishap occurs with the production of the vaccine that is already being administered, everything will continue to go as planned and at the end of the summer it is possible that we will achieve the desired group immunity .

This is obviously the priority of the priorities and will concentrate a large part of our collective effort throughout the year that begins today.