"Above all, we have a very good vaccination rate in children over 12 years old, something that hasn’t happened in most other European countries, which makes us feel some comfort in terms of pressure on the National Health Service,” he said.

Even with the relaxation of measurements and masks no longer being mandatory in most places, there is no “an explosion of cases”, nor a significant increase in admissions.

"Given that we have an excellent vaccination rate and that Portugal has now administering the third dose for the most vulnerable groups, I think we can face the winter, I will not say calmly, but with some optimism”, declared João Paulo Gomes.

“There is as yet no scientific evidence to suggest that this Delta subline is more transmissible or even endangers the effectiveness of the vaccines. In fact, in recent weeks there have been several examples of the emergence of new combinations of mutations, but which end up having no epidemiological impact”, according to the INSA researcher.

In Portugal there are still few cases of the new AY.4.2 sublineage, spread over the last few weeks, and some of them are linked to the United Kingdom, where it has some epidemiological relevance.

The coordinator of the Study of the genetic diversity of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in Portugal said, citing information provided by health authorities, that some of these cases have "a travel history or an epidemiological link" to the United Kingdom.

According to the microbiologist, “it is normal” that, due to tourism and the flow of people between the UK and Portugal, that some cases continue to be detected, but he pointed out that it is “too early” for travel restrictions or other measures.

As subline AY.4.2 is having “significant expression” in the UK and growing in frequency “week after week”, INSA researchers tried to understand if the same was happening in Portugal and concluded that the picture is not replicated in the country.