“Nobody will ever forget this past January, but now Covid is endemic and we need to learn to live with the virus,” said Dr. Mota. “Almost the whole population is vaccinated here and the virus still circulates, showing it won’t go away.”
As in other countries with a large proportion of the population vaccinated, a stubborn persistence of infections in Portugal hasn’t led to a significant increase in the rate of hospitalizations or deaths.
“Things are getting better, but it’s slow,” said Miguel Campos, who drives tourists around Lisbon in a tuk-tuk. “We are taking baby steps. We have a mix of optimism and hope that this return to normal will continue.”
Before the pandemic there were 800 rickshaw taxi drivers in Lisbon, but now only about 200 work during the week and 500 on weekends, said Valentim Gaspar, another rickshaw taxi driver. For now, the balance between drivers and tourists makes it possible to earn a decent living, he said.
The Portuguese almost universally attribute their vaccination success to Henrique Gouveia e Melo, an ex-submarine commander brought on to run the inoculation drive after a shaky start. He projected confidence and tapped into the population’s generally favorable attitudes to vaccinations, according to public-health experts. The vaccine rollout began in January just as the worst of the pandemic peaked in Portugal, providing a clear incentive for anybody who might have been unsure about getting vaccinated.
With one of the world’s highest Covid-19 vaccination rates, Portugal is learning to live with the virus and being watched by other countries as a possible way forward https://t.co/Qbnn4PYiTa
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) October 25, 2021