Portugal may face a new wave of contagions due to the new coronavirus when it enters the phase of deflation, warned epidemiologist Manuel Carmo Gomes today, regarding the greater transmissibility of new variants of SARS-CoV-2.
“Portugal is not free from a fourth wave,” the scientist told Lusa, according to which, although new infections are decreasing every day in the country, the pace is now “slower” and Rt itself [índice de transmissibilidade], which is below 1, “has been rising slowly, which means that we are reactivating the number of contagions”.
“We are no longer heading towards 0 and we are moving towards a plateau”, he stressed.
For the specialist from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, this year’s experience of the covid-19 pandemic has already shown that, “when we start to suspect, it is inevitable that the number of contagions will increase”.
Manuel Carmo Gomes warned that, at this stage, the concern is that contagions “may increase more quickly” due to the presence of the three new variants, taking into account that “the mutations cause the virus to transmit more”.
For the specialist, the presence of the variant detected in the United Kingdom “is one of the reasons” that explain the exponential increase of cases in January.
The researcher maintained that, in the case of the United Kingdom variant, science has already demonstrated that there is a “greater transmissibility”, since the people infected by it “have a higher viral load in the upper respiratory tract”.
As for the variant detected in Brazil, there are indications, still to be validated by the scientific community, that “there are reinfections in the Manaus region for this variant, which is a cause for concern” and that “the protection afforded by the oldest variant of the virus is only partial “.
Regarding the variant detected for the first time in South Africa, he warned, in addition to greater transmissibility, it can also reinfect those who have already been affected.
In addition, in the case of the English variant, there is already “sufficient evidence (evidence) to say that in people who are hospitalized the risk of death is higher if they are infected with the variant than the older virus”.
For these reasons, Manuel Carmo Gomes argued that the deflation must be done in phases, based on the assessment of the impact of each of these phases and without pre-established timetables.
On Wednesday, the director-general of Health, Graça Freitas, admitted that Portugal may again face a new wave of the covid-19 pandemic in the coming months, even with the current vaccination campaign in progress.
The World Health Organization warned today of the increase of new cases of contagion by SARS-CoV-2 in the last week in Europe, indicating that a cycle of descent that lasted for six weeks was interrupted.
The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 2,560,789 deaths worldwide, resulting from more than 115.1 million cases of infection, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.