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Vaccination has “huge impact” in breaking mortality


The coordinator of the Technical Commission on Vaccination Against Covid-19 defended today that the numbers of the pandemic in Portugal show an “immense impact” of vaccines on the health system and on mortality.

In an interview with Lusa agency, Válter Fonseca highlighted the differences in the current wave of covid-19 in Portugal: “In this wave of the pandemic (…) we are seeing an increase in incidence, the number of new cases, but we are not having, at this moment, to follow this incidence curve with a significant increase in hospitalizations and mortality”.

“This is an extraordinary impact of vaccination against covid-19. The curves [now] move away, whereas in the past there was an incidence curve, sometime later the hospitalization curve went up and, later, the curve of hospitalization mortality,” he explained.

At this moment – he continued -, “we are beginning to see a trend of separation of these curves, which tells us that, even with the most worrying variants, such as delta, in Portugal, vaccines are having a huge impact on the system of health and mortality of people”.

Válter Fonseca insisted that vaccines are effective and safe, protecting against serious illness and hospitalization (between 90% and 95%), but also decreasing transmission, albeit at different levels.

“The data we have available today, mainly from the United Kingdom, which is the country with the most history and vaccination coverage against covid-19, show that these vaccines also have an impact on the transmission of the virus, but not on the values ​​that we see for mortality and serious illness,” said the expert.

As time passes, he added, “we are beginning to know better how vaccines behave in the results of asymptomatic infection and transmission. It is always more difficult to study these last results than the first ones [mortality and hospitalization]” .

“The first ones [relating to mortality and hospitalizations] are straightforward, objective, while the others [relating to protection against asymptomatic infection and transmission] need more complex studies,” he added.

Asked about some uncertainty that still exists about the reactive protection of the delta variant, the official said: “We are analyzing the true impact of this variant on vaccine effectiveness so that we can then take the right measures for the future”.

“Which does not mean (…) that there is no total confidence in vaccines. Vaccines are effective and are doing their job. We just have to look every day at our numbers in Portugal,” he added.

Regarding the future, and asked about the hypothesis of an eventual third dose of vaccine, or about the options that the Directorate-General of Health is considering, Válter Fonseca replied: “All hypotheses are studied”.

“It is too early to be able to say what will happen in terms of additional doses. The first reason for this is that we have not yet achieved our goal: to vaccinate all adult bands with the complete scheme,” he said.

Asked about the need for a third dose of the covid-19 vaccine, the specialist replied: “To make a decision on the need for a third dose, we need data that are not yet known, namely, what is it that it happens to the duration of immunity conferred by vaccines”.

“So far, the data we have indicate that the immunity conferred by the vaccine has been maintained and has been able to face new variants, maintaining the protection of people”, said Válter Fonseca, insisting: “We have to wait some more time, keep our objective is to follow the evolution of knowledge”.

Original in Portuguese here: