COVID-19 | Weekly Update

January 8, 2021

Friday, January 8th | COVID-19 Daily Update



In the last 24 hours, Portugal recorded its worst day ever since the beginning of the pandemic, with 118 fatalities and 10,176 new people infected with the new coronavirus, according to the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) epidemiological bulletin. 

The data released today show that the number of deaths rose to 7,590, while confirmed cases increased to 466,709. It should also be noted that the number of people recovered also increased from 4,480 patients to a total of 360,181.



The renewal of the state of emergency brings little news but starting next Tuesday the scenario is likely to change. Prime Minister António Costa, who is starting to receive political parties and the Permanent Council for Social Dialogue today, wants the country to be prepared for confinement similar to that of March 2020 and only schools should escape. 

The latest data from the DGS show that the virus transmission rate (Rt) is growing sharply, returning to the values of March 2020, the time of the first wave. 

Besides, the Ministry of Health does not exclude the possibility of using the nurses’ body created on a pro bono basis, by the Portuguese Red Cross, to help vaccinate against COVID-19, although it should be noted that this process is “being ensured by the entities” of the Portuguese NHS.

However, the coordinator of the National Vaccination Plan against COVID-19, Francisco Ramos, confirmed that the lack of a DGS standard that allows the preparation of six doses for each bottle of Pfizer vaccine has already forced to waste an amount that would give to vaccinate six thousand people in Portugal.

The president of the National Institute of Health, Doctor Ricardo Jorge (INSA), in an interview, analyzed the current moment of the pandemic and talks about the projects for this year. Fernando Almeida announced that INSA is going to do a new serological survey, which will start at the end of the month.

For his part, the president of the National Association of Public Health Doctors, Ricardo Mexia, stresses that “people must realize that the situation is not resolved” and “until we have an impact on the vaccine population it will still be many weeks or some months”. 

According to data this morning advanced by INE (Portuguese Statistics Board), in the last four weeks of 2020, deaths by COVID-19 exceeded by 15.3% the total excess of mortality calculated for that period. Last year, SARS-CoV-2 accounted for 52% of the excess mortality.



The European Commission has reached an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to acquire an additional 300 million doses of its vaccine against COVID-19, announced today by the president of EU executive Ursula von der Leyen.  

At the same time, it was also announced today by the British Government that everyone who wishes to enter England, including British citizens, should have a negative test for COVID-19 starting next week. As for the numbers, the UK registered 52,618 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 1,162 more people died.

Germany had a new maximum of daily deaths: 1,188. In the last 24 hours, the country had another 31,849 new infections and Chancellor Angela Merkel has already announced that she will tighten measures and prolong them until the end of the month.

According to US experts, the pandemic is certain to worsen this month. The country exceeded 4,000 deaths in 24 hours yesterday for the first time, due to COVID-19. 

The São Paulo State Government reported yesterday that Coronavac, a vaccine against the new coronavirus, which was tested in Brazil by the Butantan Institute, was 78% effective in the country.



The first data on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the same that is being administered in Portugal, reveals that 99.999% of people did not have serious adverse reactions when taking the first dose. 

A new study, released yesterday on a specialized website, suggests that the Pfizer vaccine may protect against a mutation found in two highly contagious variants of the new coronavirus that emerged in the UK and South Africa.

In turn, a team of US scientists analyzed blood samples from 188 individuals who had COVID-19 and found that large players (antibodies and T lymphocytes) in the adaptive immune system can last up to eight months after the onset of symptoms of the infection.



The 2021 Portuguese State Budget provided for the Government to go to the Treasury Bond markets to borrow EUR 24,850 million this year, but that plan has been drastically changed in recent weeks. According to the IGCP (body managing PT public debt), the State says it only intends to raise 15 billion in international markets, a 40% reduction compared to what was the initial forecast.

In turn, the unemployment rate in the Eurozone was 8.3% in November, down 0.1% from the figures recorded last October, but above the 7.4% in November 2019. 

In turn, the unemployment rate in the EU was 7.5% in November 2020, lower than the 7.6% recorded in October, but above the 6.6% in November 2019, according to Eurostat data released today.

Nevertheless, despite the increase in the number of infection cases registered in the penultimate month of 2020, in October and November, the labour market again showed signs of resistance through the net creation of jobs. The economy managed to recover in these months 85% of the job destruction registered until May.

However, the Government yesterday approved the extension until June 2021 of the support to the progressive recovery, which now guarantees 100% of the salary to workers in a lay-off, and which is extended to managing partners.

Yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva highlighted the need to conclude the ratification of the agreement with Mercosur, affirming that the bet on trade is the “best way” to improve relations between the EU and Latin America.



The Portuguese stock exchange opened today’s session to trade on positive ground, with the PSI-20 appreciating 0.62% to 5,314.66 points, the highest value since last February. 

In Europe, the trend is also positive, with investors encouraged by the prospect of further stimulus to the North American economy.

As for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, today it rose 2.36% at the close to quote above 28 thousand points, for the first time in more than 30 years.