João Paulo Gomes underlined that “Portugal is in a very good situation”.

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

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 suggested the third dose for the most vulnerable groups, I think we can face the winter, I will not say it calmly, but with some optimism because there is no reason for things to go ahead for evil”, 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 no more than 10 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" linked 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, 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.

"We cannot talk about a growing trend, but we have already detected cases here, as other countries have also detected, we will naturally be attentive to see if by chance this underlining increases its frequency", said the researcher from the Department of Infectious Diseases of the INSA.

He also explained that what is happening is that the scientific community has noticed, given that the Delta variant "has been dominating the entire world for five, six months", that "it is Delta itself that is evolving".

“We're talking about the Delta variant that appears with a mutation here, another mutation there, and whenever these differences are significant, so that the virus is different enough and has some epidemiological impact, they are then defined as new sublines within of the Delta variant”, he explained, adding that 30 sublines have already been described.