On Saturday, Brazil became the second country after the United States to surpass the 500,000 killed by COVID-19 when the South American giant faced a third wave of pandemic.
“500,000 lives have been lost due to the pandemic affecting our Brazil and the world,” tweeted Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga.
The Ministry of Health reported 500,800 deaths, including 2,301 in the last 24 hours, a toll that many experts say underestimates the actual toll from the health crisis.
This week, the average number of daily deaths exceeded 2,000 for the first time since May 10.
“The third wave is coming, there is already a change of case and death curves,” Ethel Maciel, an epidemiologist at Espirito Santo University, told AFP.
“Our vaccination (program), which could make a difference, is slow and there are no signs of restrictive measures, on the contrary.”
However, the situation is critical in 19 of the 27 Brazilian states with more than 80% occupancy in intensive care beds; in nine of these states it exceeds 90%.
The “second wave,” from January to April this year, was particularly deadly.
The death toll increased exponentially with the arrival of the Gamma virus variant originating in Manaus, northern Brazil.
It began to fall gradually in May thanks, in part, to the closure of companies when the pandemic was worst.
But many epidemiologists believe the blocking restrictions were lifted too soon at a time when daily deaths were still rising at around 2,000.
Contrary to what has been seen in Europe, there has been no real trough between the different waves in Brazil.
“I don’t know if it’s a third wave … it looks like we never got out of the first,” said Alexandre da Silva, a specialist in Public health at the University of Sao Paulo.
“It looks like the pandemic has now become a marathon runner running the pace of his career. It’s not a sprinter who does his sprint, but then loses power.”
Brazil has recently received several batches of vaccines, including those from the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, but the country has only managed to fully vaccinate 11% of the population, with 29% receiving a dose.
The vaccination campaign began in late mid-January using AstraZeneca and Coronavac spikes.
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who previously began vaccinating himself, has pledged to immunize the entire population by the end of the year, which experts consider unlikely.
Bolsonaro has been criticized for downplaying the pandemic from the outset, opposing blocking measures and covering up untested medical treatments for COVID, and on Saturday thousands of Brazilians took to the streets again to protest it.
At rallies in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and elsewhere, people carried banners with slogans such as “Bolsonaro must go” or simply “500,000.”
“His position on COVID and his denialism are absurd. He has abandoned reality and common sense. That is not explained, it is surreal,” said Robert Almeida, a 50-year-old photographer who was leaving for Rio.
“500,000 dead from a disease for which there is now a vaccine, in a country that has been a world leader in vaccination. There is a word for it: genocide,” tweeted left-wing expert Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “Solidarity with the people of Brazil”.
It was more surprising, then, that Brazil agreed at 11 o’clock to organize the Copa America football tournament, seeing the arrival of world stars such as the Argentine Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez of Uruguay and the host Neymar of his European clubs.
The matches are played behind closed doors, but Bolsonaro has been set on fire for having given the blessing of hosting the tournament amid a pandemic when Argentina and Colombia had to retire.
Many Brazilians have expressed opposition to the tournament.
Beyond the football tournament, Maciel says managing the government’s pandemic is responsible for thousands of additional deaths.
“If we had acted in a different and coordinated way, giving specific information to people about public health measures … none of that would have happened,” he said.
He accused the government of “confusing people” by discouraging science-backed health measures, such as social distancing and the use of face masks.
Bolsonaro shows no signs of a change in grip, however, and last week announced he would ask the health minister to lift the obligation to wear masks abroad.
Local authorities have already been fined for holding unmasked rallies.
And Bolsonaro is also being investigated by the Senate for his chaotic pandemic management.
© 2021 AFP
Citation: The third wave of pandemic comes when Brazil exceeds half a million deaths by COVID (2021, June 20) recovered on June 20, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-pandemic-brazil -surpasses-million-covid.html
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