Mathematician and Professor Henrique Oliveira talks about the role of confinement, the prospects for the coming weeks and the effect of vaccination.

Henrique Oliveira, a mathematician and professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico, considers that the confinement is taking effect, especially since the schools closed, stressing that the Rt (transmissibility index) is below 1 across the country.

“We are reaching the peak in Lisbon and Vale do Tejo and the numbers are very favorable,” said the professor, adding that in this respect he is more optimistic than the Minister of Health, Marta Temido.

However, Henrique Oliveira argues that caution is necessary because the pressure on healthcare will remain, even after the peak is exceeded.


According to projections, the number of fatalities will start to fall, after a very high peak of deaths by Covid-19 has been reached.

“Lethality went up immensely in the month of January and went up a lot in layers above 80 years old,” he said in an interview with SIC Notícias.

The professor believes that the number of deaths will start to fall very quickly and, from the end of February, it is estimated that Portugal will be at the same level as Christmas, “if all goes well”.

The calculations point to a much smaller number of fatalities between 15 and 22 March. It will be at that time that it will be considered whether or not to open the country.

“With the January and February mortality levels, it would be very imprudent to open in an uncontrolled way”, underlines Henrique Oliveira.


Henrique Oliveira says that the confinement is being very effective, even with regard to the transmission of new variants of the virus. There is still no data on the Manaus variant, but there is already scientific evidence on the British and South African variants.

“All foreign variants, English, South African and even Manaus, are not being devastating in the face of this confinement. They are being dominated”, says the professor.


Vaccination in February will not yet have an effect on the numbers, says Henrique Oliveira. However, if it is possible to vaccinate 80% of people over 80 during February and March, the protection will be noticeable significantly, allowing the month of April to be an opening month.

“I want to show a sign of optimism, we will have summer. From June onwards, we will be in a very favourable situation, we will be in a kind of temporary group immunity”, says the professor, remembering that this is only possible if contacts are reduced and the use of a mask continues to be widespread.

In a positive perspective, which requires some prudence, tourism will be able to plan activities in the summer, says the mathematician.

We want society to open up and be able to recover from there without limits”, he concluded.