About 98% of the population is completely vaccinated.
Everything is due to Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo.
Portugal is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, who led the campaign, said there was a key to his success: “Don’t mix politics,” nytimes.com reports.
The Portuguese health system was on the verge of collapse. The hospitals in Lisbon were full, and the authorities were asking people to treat them at home. In the last week of January, nearly 2,000 people died from the spread of the virus.
The country’s vaccination program was a disaster, so the government turned to Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, a former submarine squadron commander, to straighten the ship.
Eight months later, Portugal is one of the world’s leaders in vaccination, with around 86% of its 10.3 million population fully vaccinated. About 98% of all those eligible for vaccines – that is, anyone over the age of 12 – have been completely vaccinated, Admiral Gouveia e Melo said.
“We believe we have reached the point of group protection and close to herd immunity,” he said. “Things look great.”
On Friday, Portugal ended almost all coronavirus restrictions. There was a sharp drop in the number of new cases, to about 650 per day, and very few deaths.
Nightclubs vibrate, infections decrease
Many Western nations fortunate enough to have abundant vaccine reserves have seen inoculation rates stabilize, with more than 20 percent of their population still unprotected. Thus, other governments are looking to Portugal for possible lessons and are watching closely to see what happens when almost every eligible person is protected.
There have been worrying signs in Israel and elsewhere that vaccine protection may disappear over time, and there is a global debate over who should receive booster vaccines and when.
Admiral Gouveia e Melo said Portugal could soon start offering reminders to the elderly and those considered clinically vulnerable and that he was confident that all of them could be reached by the end of December.
But for now, as bars and nightclubs vibrate with life, infections are reduced and deaths are declining, the country’s vaccination campaign has been successful even after encountering many of the same obstacles that have caused others to fail.
When he withdrew from the task force this week, the admiral said that, in his opinion, the country is on a good path. But, as a diver, he warned that vigilance would remain essential to ensure that this war was won.