Naval officer praised for deployment of Portuguese vaccine

Texas News Today

oirasso – As Portugal moves closer to the goal of completely immunizing 85% of its population with COVID-19 in nine months, Europe and other countries want to know how this was achieved. ..

Most of the credit is given to Major General Enrique Gavia e Mello. Along with his team from three branches of the military, a naval officer was responsible for deploying the vaccine in February – perhaps the biggest moment of tension in Portugal in relation to a pandemic.

Currently, it may take just a few days for counties to reach their target. As of Wednesday, 84% of the total population had been fully vaccinated, according to Our World In data, the highest in the world.

With the increase in shots, the COVID-19 infection rate and viral hospitalizations fell to their lowest levels in nearly 18 months. Portugal could end many of its remaining pandemic restrictions in October. This is a prestigious development for many countries that are still aware of highly infectious delta variants and are lagging behind in implementing their own vaccinations.

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Previously unknown outside the military, Gouvi Melo is now a common name in Portugal, with an emphasis on regular appearances on television to answer common concerns about vaccination programmes.

His blue eyes, carefully cut salt and pepper hair, and height of 1.93 m (6 ft 3 in) make it easily recognizable even behind a face mask, and he is often accompanied by people who see him on the street. But I want to thank you. You will be greeted.

“People are very kind,” he says. However, a 60-year-old police officer also quickly claims that he is the “tip of the iceberg” of the operation and many others share the credibility.

Military involvement in the deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine is not uncommon elsewhere, but Portugal has given it a major role.

The Gouvia e Mello team works with health officials, the police and the city council, but military expertise has proven invaluable.

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“People in the military are used to working under stress in an uncertain environment,” he said in his office in the NATO building near Lisbon, which commands the Atlantic landscape. “They are organized, have a good logistics system … and are usually very focused on their mission.”

Gveia Emero began the rollout with her no-nonsense approach and emphasis on discipline. His candid speech made him feel sorry for many who were concerned that he might not be vaccinated in time.

In an interview with the Associated Press, he acknowledged that it was “terrible” to replace the politically appointed official, who resigned after just three months.

At the time, Portugal was in the worst phase of an epidemic, and public hospitals were one of the most devastated countries on the verge of collapse. The promised vaccine delivery did not come. And mockery for the shot could undermine the public’s confidence in the deployment.

“I felt like I was looking at 10 million people,” said Gouvia Melo, referring to the Portuguese population.

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His 42-year military career helps explain how he dealt with pressure.

He was the commander of the submarine, and at one point he was in charge of two ships at the same time. One ship returned to base, ate on shore, and then took the other to sea.

He is also the captain of the frigate Gouvia e Mello, commanding the European Union Navy Euromarfour, and has the most recorded time of Portuguese naval officers at sea.

He did not apologize for describing the vaccine deployment as a fight, and has been wearing a combat uniform since taking over the effort. He said he wanted to send a message that this is a call to arms.

“This uniform…was a symbol of understanding the need for people to roll up our sleeves and fight this virus,” he says.

Gouvía e Mello culminates in Portugal’s first attempt at piggyback on an established vaccination strategy, commonly used annually for influenza vaccination in small public health centres. Addressing COVID-19 requires a very different approach to the scale and speed requirements.

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Portugal has begun to use sports facilities across the country on a large scale in what it calls the Gauvia e Mello “production line”. waiting room; the cube where the injections are made; and recovery area. He used soldiers at the Lisbon Military Hospital as guinea pigs to capture the fastest flow of people through the building.

He made great strides in what he describes as a “tsunami” delivering vaccines in mid-June, which allowed a shift into higher gear.

Tiago Correa, an associate professor of international public health at the New University Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Lisbon, said the general view that Gavia e Mello was a major factor in the success of the deployment was an “exaggeration” of his role. . I think that.

An important factor, according to Korea, is Portugal’s traditional consent to a national vaccination programme. For example, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination rate is 95%, which is one of the highest vaccination rates in the European Union and there is no significant vaccination movement.

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Still, Gavia e Mello’s military background meant he was able to “avoid all politics” and secure public confidence in the deployment, Kolya told the AP.

Recently, Gouvia e Mello has often been greeted with applause by the general public when visiting a vaccine center and taking selfies. He has been the subject of TikTok videos and poems.

On the wall behind his desk is a picture given to him by a child who capitalized “Obligado” – “Thank you”.

While visiting the Vaccine Center on the University of Lisbon campus on Tuesday, Gavia Amro turned around in a combat uniform, handing out emblems of clothing designed for the rollout to people awaiting a shot. The emblem worn by many represents three hydra rushing towards two viral cells, with a green border representing more than 4,700 people working at a Portuguese vaccine centre. ..

Claudia Boigs, 53, who is waiting in the recovery area with her 15-year-old son, who has just been vaccinated, said she was surprised at the rapid deployment.

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“I never thought it would reach 85%,” she said. “But now we deserve congratulations.”

Other countries that Gveia e Melo declined to identify because their request was not published asked Portugal about its efforts.

Gavia e Mello will soon be able to say that her mission is accomplished for her immediate goals. However, there is considerable hesitation in vaccination due to inadequate doses in some rich and many poor countries, and there is no illusion that the type of virus can afflict Portugal.

“We won the battle,” he says. “I do not know whether I have won the battle against the virus or not. This is a world war.”

See AP coverage for the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

Copyright 2021 AP Communications. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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