It’s now been a little over six hundred days since the pandemic started and a hundred since my last update, so it’s time for another update–albeit a more cursory one, since I haven’t had much time to dive deep into the data.
As usual, here’s the full timeline. Summer started out quite poorly, but plateaued after the surge, with new cases going down steeply during September, which was a good thing:
The fact that things didn’t balloon out of control upon return to work and school was quite likely linked to the massive vaccination effort done over Summer (more below, but the short of it is that right now only kids under 12 are unvaccinated).
The slight uptick in the past couple of weeks is indeed concerning, though, as days are becoming shorter, temperatures are slowly dropping (even though we’ve had 30oC days in the latter part of that period), and people are going to start spending a lot more time indoors as we go into November.
Which hasn’t stopped throngs of people from crowding bar districts, open air cafés, newly re-opened restaurants, etc.
In fact, the recent uptick is dominated by the 20-29 demographic:
With masks having become mandatory only in enclosed spaces and increasing slackness as people become careless and start going back to restaurants, bars and other forms of entertainment, it’s hardly surprising.
Remote work is also becoming less prevalent, so people are going back to offices. One thing we’re noticing is that traffic is much worse than it was before the pandemic, likely because everyone who can avoid public transportation is doing so, even if various folk tell me there is a general sense of laxness in offices, with maskless meetings, shut windows, etc. People just don’t seem to care.
In the meantime, both of my kids have already been sent home a few times because of infections in school, which (at least in our case) seem to be mostly among younger kids. Only the youngest is unvaccinated, so that’s a bit of a concern.
This, I think, is the most positive thing–after being one of the worst countries on record where it pertained to infection rates, Portugal bounced back and became the leading country in the world in vaccinations.
The task force was recently disbanded after reaching a whopping 85% vaccination rate (which only left out sub-12 kids and a residual percentage of people who did not get vaccinated). This is pretty awesome on its own, but last week the government has also started scheduling third doses (and flu shots) for those most at risk.
Yes, Vaccines Work
The data shows that vaccination has already given a pretty big boost to hospitals, with ICUs no longer under pressure:
…and there is now a clear decoupling between new cases and deaths:
So good thing we don’t have an anti-vaxxer movement here, I guess. Those few that lurk in Facebook are (fortunately) a small, deluded minority and not (unlike a certain country) a fairly large segment of mis-informed people across the general population (there are also no political or religious biases against it).
However, over 18.000 people have died since we started keeping tabs, and I am quite worried about this Winter (as well as long-term effects).
Optimistically, I would expect to go back to using masks (or, rather, to have it mandated again–I’ve yet to stop) around late November, if only as a precautionary measure.
Realistically, and given that most people are now pretty much on “I don’t give a damn” mode (organizing events, dinner parties and lunches like there’s no tomorrow, and taking absolutely zero precautions), I expect a full-on reprise of last year’s pre-Xmas blunders and another late reaction. And that’s assuming we don’t get a new variant (although things seem quiet on that front).
I suppose only time will tell, so let’s check back again in a couple of months or so…