The news was advanced by the coordinator of the task force for vaccination. Vice Admiral Gouveia e Melo hopes to start vaccinating all age groups at a time when the target for vaccinating 70% of the population set on August 8 seems to be threatened.
“Within two weeks we will have all age groups in the process of vaccination,” said the vice-admiral, allowing anticipation of the start of vaccination for people aged 18 to 30 years on 4 July.
The advance in the vaccination process for the younger age group will be made when 40% of the previous age group is already vaccinated. Usually, only 60% of the previous group would be inoculated to the next age group, but below 50 years the target was reduced so that the process could be advanced more quickly.
The intervention also served to clarify concerns about regional asymmetries in terms of age and vaccination coverage registered in the country, stating that “when we started to vaccinate the older population, we created a distortion, because there are regions that are older than others”.
This distortion began to be corrected when the efforts of the vaccination program focused on the 50 and 60-year-olds – an age group that is better distributed and more prevalent in urban areas.
Even so, it is likely that large urban regions will remain a little behind in terms of vaccination coverage compared to the rest of the country, as “the most populous areas are the ones that have the most difficulty because there is less room for maneuver to give big boosts to the vaccination process”.
Target of 70% of the vaccinated population may be compromised
The coordinator of the task force for vaccination guarantees that the country only no longer vaccinates due to lack of doses due to “delays in the delivery and production of vaccines in two brands”. It is these delays that are jeopardizing the target of 70% of the population vaccinated on schedule.
“The expectation of finishing 70% by August 8th has been compromised by delays in deliveries and vaccine production in two brands, but I’m doing my best to optimize the stocks we have to meet the target. But I think it is. It is prudent to say that this target could be delayed 15 days if we continue to have a reduction in deliveries. If the reduction is very serious, the target will be called into question,” he said this morning in the Assembly of the Republic.
At this point, the country is vaccinating at a rate of around 100,000 doses a day but “if we increase the timetable, which is something we do when necessary, we can go up to 140 mill”, he explained, reiterating that “it’s not for lack of capacity” that the pace is not superior.
“We have very limited stocks and we risk a lot in the hope that vaccines will arrive the following week. We managed to find out which vaccines will arrive with the average deadline of one month, and sometimes these predictions end up not being fulfilled. We have to keep a stock for not compromise second doses if there is a break in supply,” he concluded.
Delta variant worries
Another concern of the national vaccination plan is the danger of the Delta variant of the virus, which, according to the coordinator of the task force, is less affected by the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Studies in the UK say that an AstraZeneca vaccine has only about 30% protection and we should speed up its second dose. DGS has had the vaccine dose range reduced from 12 weeks to 8 to speed up vaccination without lose effectiveness,” he explained at the Assembly.
This vaccine was mainly given to people aged between 60 and 80 years, which makes them more vulnerable to the virus.
At this point, the Delta variant begins to proliferate in Portugal, especially in the Lisbon and Vale do Tejo region, where it is already responsible for more than 60% of cases, according to the most recent data from the Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Institute.
Source: Jornal de Negócios by www.jornaldenegocios.pt.
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