Viral activity and Covid-19 cases in China “increases the likelihood that new variants and subvariants will emerge that may eventually pose a danger and prolong the pandemic. This is not to say that it is a high probability, it is just an increased probability”, the specialist in biochemistry from the Institute of Molecular Medicine (iMM) of the University of Lisbon told Lusa.
China is facing an unprecedented wave of Covid-19 infections since the authorities decided to abandon the so-called “covid zero” policy.
This situation “does not represent a huge risk, but it is not good news for those who are looking forward to the end of the pandemic”, underlined Miguel Castanho, for whom the increase in infections is related “very specifically to the local Chinese context”.
The researcher recalled that China has implemented “very hard, extremely rigorous confinements, and used a low-efficiency vaccine”, which meant that the population’s lack of immunological protection was “almost total”.
In view of this, the risks for a “vaccinated Europe” involve not being able to reduce the number of cases and victims below a certain threshold, because there is a persistent circulation of viruses from other geographic regions, but also due to the emergence of variants or subvariants that escape, in whole or in part, the immunity conferred by vaccines and previous infections, warned the iMM specialist.
For Miguel Castanho, the control of passengers from China, already announced by several countries, is "a typical measure in these cases that should not be surprising".
When there is a “great discrepancy in the epidemiological situation of two regions, it is natural to adopt measures to protect the region in a better situation”, said the researcher, recalling that “control of the health status of passengers was a constant, even between countries Europeans during the pandemic”.
“There is no reason to make an exception in this case. Even for Chinese citizens, fresh out of the 'covid zero' policy, this measure is a small price to pay for resuming their international mobility. There should be no hesitation in adopting passenger control measures”, said Miguel Castanho.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Health assured that "everything will be prepared" so that, if necessary, measures to control Covid-19 in Portugal are adopted, namely at airports for travellers from China.