Speaking to journalists at the end of a visit to the Covid-19 Vaccination Center in Évora, the coordinator of the task force, Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, pointed out the need to “wait for scientific evidence” to take a decision.
Asked about the possibility of carrying out tests for immunity in nursing homes, the official, resorting to what he said he had heard "from health technicians", considered that the measure "may not be enough" to give an idea of the situation.
“The measurement of antibodies may not be enough for us to realise whether or not we are protected against the virus, because in the T cells there is a memory of the virus and the T cells in the presence of the virus create antibodies”, he said.
In this sense, Gouveia e Melo highlighted that if the antibodies of a person who “has not had been infected recently” are measured, they “may have zero antibodies”, but that “does not mean that they have no defense against the virus”.
“Now, I start measuring the antibodies in the population and, if there is no virus, I come to the conclusion that no one is protected and then, maybe, I'll have to vaccinate again, for no reason at all,” he warned.
"Therefore, we have to wait for these studies to develop," he added.
About active outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nursing homes, the official recalled that "the vaccine is not 100 percent effective", so "the outbreaks appear", but stressed that "the consequence is completely different than what it was three months ago.”
“People who die with completed vaccination are a tiny percentage and, if we look at it, despite being infected, they are not dying from the infection”, but rather “from other complications”, due to age and health condition.
According to Vice Admiral Gouveia e Melo, the protection that the vaccine offers “is huge and this is evident”, since now “30 to 40 times fewer people are dying” than in January of this year.
“Is it the virus that stopped being aggressive? No, the virus is even more aggressive and spreads much faster. It is the result of vaccination”, he stressed, calling on the Portuguese to “have confidence” in the vaccines.