People who have had covid-19 and recovered from the disease will also be vaccinated, the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) said today, explaining that their exclusion from the first phase is due to the shortage of vaccines.
In a clarification sent today to the Lusa agency, following the complaint from the Medical Association based on the report by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC), which highlighted Portugal and Iceland on Monday as the only countries not currently included in the vaccination for people previously infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the national health authority says the issue is “in constant monitoring”.
“In Portugal, people who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection will be vaccinated. It is not a question of not vaccinating the recovered. However, at the moment, we find ourselves in a scenario where the number of vaccines is still limited. Therefore, in a context of scarcity, priority should be given to people who are at greater risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 infection and who have not yet had the chance to develop an immune response, ”says DGS.
Emphasizing the “principle of maximizing benefit” in view of the reduced availability of vaccines, the organization led by Graça Freitas reiterates that “the vaccination of recovered people may occur as soon as the availability of vaccines increases”. The task force responsible for the vaccination plan against covid-19 has already highlighted the increase in vaccine deliveries planned for the second quarter.
On the other hand, DGS refutes criticism with data on SARS-CoV-2 reinfections worldwide, arguing that the number “is very low” and that “very few reinfections are usually mild clinical conditions” of the disease.
“Studies have shown that the immunity acquired after SARS-CoV-2 infection is long-lasting and protects against reinfection, at least as effectively as vaccines (or even more effectively),” says the health authority, adding : “Natural infection can confer immunity even to new variants and by mechanisms that are additional to the mere production of antibodies”.
While expressing the view that serological tests should not be taken into account for vaccination decisions, and “as long as vaccines are a scarce asset, the strategy is to vaccinate those who benefit most from vaccination, that is, people who do not had the opportunity to acquire immunity for not having had covid-19”, Concludes the DGS.
In Portugal, 16,843 people died from 820,716 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.