Brazil Hits 4,000 Daily Covid Deaths With Virus Running Rampant
(Bloomberg) -- Brazil reported more than 4,000 Covid-19 daily deaths for the first time as the pandemic continues to rage across the vast nation.
The Health Ministry registered 4,195 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the total since the virus first arrived to 336,947. It’s the second highest tally globally, trailing only the U.S. Cases surged by 86,979 in the past 24 hours, pushing the toll to 13.1 million.
“If Brazil keeps the current pace, the country will probably reach 5,000 daily deaths in April,” said Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at Fiocruz.
Latin America’s largest nation has blown past grim milestones in 2021, reporting near daily records of cases and deaths. The resurgence of the virus, fueled by lax social distancing measures and a new, more contagious variant, led the country to quickly surpass 200,000, and then 300,000 deaths in a little over two months, leaving hospitals overwhelmed.
Besides the strain that originated in the Amazonian city of Manaus and which has spread fast since the New Year, Sao Paulo authorities also detected a new Covid-19 variant in the city of Sorocaba, near the state’s capital, the local government said on Wednesday. The new strain is said to be similar to the one found in South Africa and there is still no evidence that the variant is circulating in other regions of the country.
Meanwhile, Brazilian authorities are trying to speed up the pace of vaccinations. The country had administered 25.4 million shots as of Monday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, enough to cover 9.4% of the population with one shot. The country vaccinated 1 million people in 24 hours for the first time on Thursday.
Anvisa, the country’s health regulator, authorized on Wednesday the emergency use of Johnson & Johnson’s jab -- the fourth vaccine cleared by the agency. Brazil purchased 38 million doses of the booster, but the doses are not expected to arrive until the second half of the year.
In a moment when there are few vaccines available, the only measure that could limit contagion is a lockdown, which would have to be accompanied by measures to help the most vulnerable, public health expert Ana Freitas Ribeiro said.
President Jair Bolsonaro, however, continues to oppose social distancing measures imposed by local governments. On Wednesday, the health minister and the head of the Senate emerged from the first meeting of the joint task-force to oversee the response to the pandemic touting the importance of masks and avoiding large gatherings during the upcoming Easter holiday. When it came his turn to speak, Bolsonaro repeated familiar lines on getting life back to normal and criticizing lockdowns.
“With our federal government denying the pandemic and having a different speech from states governments, the situation is worse,” Ribeiro, a doctor at Emilio Ribas Hospital in Sao Paulo, said.
Out of Brazil’s 27 states, 18 have ICUs more than 90% occupied, Fiocruz said in a report. The combination of intense transmission and overwhelmed hospitals has contributed to the continuous and growing number of deaths, according to the report.
Barcellos added that the collapse of the health system could also lead to an increase in deaths due to other diseases as patients can’t get care.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.