Portugal will buy about 38 million vaccines against covid-19, “much more” than necessary, allowing support to other countries, announced the Minister of Health who already admits to space the taking of second dose.

“We are currently in the process of contracting something like 38 million vaccines,” said Marta Temido in an interview with the Lusa agency, about a year ago about the appearance of the first two cases of infection by the new coronavirus in Portugal, on 02 March 2020.

A number of vaccines are, said the minister, “much more than what the needs for the full vaccination of the Portuguese population will be” and which allows to guarantee support to other countries.

“If anything this pandemic taught us, it was that only when everyone is safe, will each of us be safe,” he said.

Regarding the proposal of the coordinator of the vaccination plan against covid-19, Gouveia e Melo, to postpone taking the second dose of the vaccine to allow another 200 thousand people to vaccinate until the end of March, Marta Temido said that “this technical change is designed and will come into effect as soon as the new vaccinations are made ”, given that this measure does not affect those who have been vaccinated and already have their second administration scheduled.

“It’s not about not taking the second dose or even exceeding” the interval defined in clinical trials, it’s just a matter of managing quantities and being able to “protect more people, faster, ensuring that the proposed objectives” are achieved.

“The General Directorate of Health, the Infarmed and the ‘task force’ for vaccination have analysed the possibility of a greater spacing between doses and consider that this possibility is technically adequate while maintaining the recommendations of what the characteristics of the medicine are,” he said.

Since December 27, more than 860 thousand doses of vaccines have been administered in Portugal. “Having 70% of the population vaccinated at the end of the summer remains the goal”, he said, admitting, however, to be “an ambitious goal”: “We know that we will have to monitor the process carefully and with availability for adjustments”.

As for tests on covid-19, he said that 8.1 million tests have already been carried out, placing Portugal among “the countries that test the most in the European Union”.

The testing strategy has changed and all contacts now carry out a test, regardless of the level of risk, allowing to expand the universe of tested.

On the other hand, in a scenario of lack of definition, as is being planned, there will be “a previous moment” that will involve testing people who work in “more exposed activities”.

“We are not going to be testing ten million Portuguese every 15 days. There would be no tests, no human means, no financial means and it would be a waste, “but there will be a measurement based on” technical criteria, criteria of reasonability “based on the evidence that already exists about other testing strategies in other countries.

What is intended, he explained, is that before the start of certain activities, screening campaigns are guaranteed and that sectors of industrial, commercial, cultural activity can have the practice of internalized testing in the same way as, for example, periodic medical examinations in terms of occupational health or health at work.

Also in certain activities under the responsibility of the State, such as Education, there will be tests to return to face-to-face activity, which will then be done regularly.

Social adherence to testing is also “absolutely essential”.

“Knowing that there are many variants to emerge, the test has this value of at every moment understanding how the transmission is and even detecting new variants that may be more aggressive”, he stressed.

Asked about the investment made in tests, the minister said: “a lot”, remembering that the SNS has already carried out millions of tests that at the beginning cost almost 100 euros each.

“It was a significant expense in terms of the country’s laboratory capacity,” he said, stressing that the NHS alone invested around eight million euros in the improvement of its laboratories, without relying on reagents or human resources.

HN / SO // SB


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