“Our early action prevented and greatly attenuated the effect of covid-19 on kidney patients”


The “great level of communication and interoperability” verified in the nephrology community is, for Anabela Rodrigues, the key that explains the successful path in the protection of chronic renal patients during the health crisis. Due to the particular weakness that characterizes this group, it was necessary to create contingency plans in dialysis clinics, change the organization of transport to the centers and, above all, place these patients on the priority list for vaccination against covid-19. “It was a difficult journey, but very constructive”, he says.

The president of the National Dialysis Monitoring Commission (CNAD) – who participated in the debate “Pandemia covid-19 and dialysis”, promoted today by Anadial with the support of Expresso and integrated in the cycle “Rethinking Health” – believes, therefore, that the results achieved should be a source of pride for the country. And what results were achieved? Ana Galvão, a specialist in nephrology, presented figures on the incidence of infection by covid-19 and the lethality of the disease among patients on hemodialysis, which she considers “relatively low”. The comparison is made with countries like Spain: while Portugal registered a mortality rate of 12.5%, the neighboring nation reached 23%. “I think that the fact that we acted too early prevented and greatly attenuated the effect of covid-19 on kidney patients,” he says.

Although participants in the debate agree that the Portuguese performance was positive in this field, they warn of challenges that still persist, such as the recovery of the number of kidney transplants performed in 2020 – they were reduced by 23.5% compared to 2019. It is normal for this to happen, since the intensive care units ended up being dedicated to the treatment of patients with covid and there was a reduction in the number of donors”, adds the doctor at the University Hospital Center of Coimbra (CHUC). However, he reinforces, “we are on the right path”.

Learn about the main conclusions of the debate that brought together Anabela Rodrigues (CNAD), Ana Galvão (CHUC), Fernando Macário (Diaverum) and Pedro Simas (virologist):

Teachings for the future

  • In addition to the ability to communicate between services and institutions, as well as the sharing of data updated daily, specialists highlight the continuity of renal treatments as one of the greatest successes in this pandemic crisis. At the opening of the event, the president of Anadial, Jaime Tavares, said that he considered that “the sector has shown extraordinary resilience”.
  • Fernando Macário, Diaverum’s clinical manager, argues that it is necessary to rethink the organizational structure of medical care so that, in a possible future pandemic, it is possible to maintain care in all areas of health. “Patients on dialysis do not die from kidney disease, they die from other types of cardiovascular complications and respiratory infections. It is necessary to guarantee that this follow-up can be done”, he says.
  • The improvement of medical care, believes Anabela Rodrigues, must go through, in the future, an increasing individualization of treatments and extending them as much as possible to the patients’ homes. “I am sure that we are capable, all together, of taking this step”, she says.

third dose of vaccination

  • As part of the risk groups, chronic kidney patients may be called to take the third dose of the vaccine against covid-19, in order to strengthen immunity. “I think it’s prudent to give a third dose, especially to people over 70 years old, and to do this in parallel with the flu vaccine”, calls virologist Pedro Simas.
  • “In the first country that made the third dose to all dialysis patients, which was France, we could observe an increase in part of the immunity”, contextualizes Fernando Macário, who says he is not sure if this is the way forward, while acknowledging: “By logic, it can protect some exceptionally vulnerable patients”.

Source: Expresso by expresso.pt.

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