Covid: Portugal's vaccine rollout is among the world's best - how does it compare to the UK's?

A few months ago Portugal had one of the worst Covid rates in the world, but it now has one of the best vaccination numbers out of any nation, James Mates reports

Portugal has gone from suffering some of the worst Covid rates in the world to now having one of the highest Covid vaccination rates in little over half a year - how have they achieved it?

More than 85% of all Portuguese citizens have now been vaccinated against Covid-19, way ahead of the UK's 67%.

France, Spain and Italy have also raced ahead of Britain and have infection rates ten times lower.

Why has Portugal done so well?

At the start of the year the country was battling one of the worst Covid infection rates in the world but in 10 months they have turned things around,

Much of the success of the vaccine rollout in Portgual has been attributed to Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia E Melo.

He's spent most of his career dealing with complex military logistical operations and was brought in by the government when their rollout got off to a slow start.

Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia E Melo has led Portugal's vaccine programme Credit: ITV

He did away with Portugal’s initial efforts to piggyback on established vaccination strategies, such as those used annually for flu shots in usually small, public health centres.

The demands of scale and speed to address Covid-19 required a very different approach.He set up "production lines" in large sports centres and similar spaces across the country.

Vice Adm. Gouveia E Melo told ITV News he thinks the UK's problem is anti-vaccination sentiment is "well-spread" across the country, making it harder to get to full immunity.

He believes Portugal has now achieved real herd immunity, but thinks the UK's numbers are too low to get there.

Portugal has very few anti-vaccination groups and trust among the populace is extremely high.

85% of all Portuguese citizens have now been vaccinated. Credit: ITV

The country has also maintained the mentality that the pandemic is still going on, with almost all the population wearing masks when advised to in public spaces.

Nightclubs are open but only people with the EU's Covid green pass can enter.

To get the pass someone needs to have been recently tested or double jabbed.

How is the UK doing?

The UK now has one of the highest Covid infection rates in the world and which is many magnitudes higher than all other comparable rich nations.

There are currently 7,749 people in hospital with coronavirus and there are warnings it could rise further.

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the UK could soon be recording 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day but has so far declined to implement 'plan B' which would bring back some measures in England.

More than 1,000 people a week are also dying from Covid with the 223 deaths reported on Wednesday - the highest since March.

Although the Covid vaccination programme got off to a flying start in the UK it has now slowed significantly.

The UK is particularly behind when it comes to jabbing 12-15 year olds as it only approved them in September, months after many other nations.

The booster jab programme has also been slow.Currently, 7.9 million are eligible for their third jab (having passed the six-month mark) with another 1.9 million likely to be invited this week. So far, 5.5 million have been invited to have their vaccination, and just under 4 million have done.There are calls to raise the number of booster jabs being given to half a million a day.