After a devastating second wave that caused the death of covid to climb half a million people, Brazil has registered a drop in the pandemic indicators for a few weeks, which specialists attribute to the acceleration in the rate of vaccination.
The average daily deaths in the last week was 1,252, compared to the almost 3,000 lives lost per day during the first half of April, at the height of the second wave.
And the average number of infections is below 43,000, after having exceeded 77,000 at the end of June.
“We are not yet in a comfortable situation: we have a very high number of new cases and deaths. But in those completely vaccinated age groups, we already see a significant improvement in hospitalization and death indicators,” epidemiologist Ethel Maciel told AFP. , from the Federal University of Espírito Santo (UFES).
Security forces guard a shipment of Pfizer vaccines that arrived at the Campinas airport in São Paulo at the end of April. Photo: REUTERS
Immunization is accelerated
Immunization, which began in January in priority groups (health personnel, the elderly, indigenous people), was affected by the shortage of imported doses and supplies.
But in the last month the country managed to stabilize the delivery and distribution of vaccines and applied, on average, more than a million daily doses, according to official data.
This has resulted in coverage of the 40% of the population with one dose and about 15% with a complete immunization, and those percentages are expected to rise considerably in the coming months.
Cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the most populous in the country, have made progress in vaccinating key groups, such as health and education professionals, and are calling on adults aged 30 to 40 for the first dose.
Brazil reached 500,000 deaths from coronavirus in June: the tribute on Copacabana beach, on the 20th of that month. Photo: AP
Rio promises to immunize its entire population over 12 by the end of November.
Relief in hospitals
Vaccination “has progressed at a slower speed than desired, but it is beginning to show clear effects. It was also important so that that supposed third wave (still predicted last month) did not materialize,” said Mauro Sanchez, an epidemiologist at the University of Brasilia (UnB).
Brazil, with 212 million inhabitants, already has almost 540,000 deaths from covid, of which more than 340,000 were registered so far in 2021.
In its latest epidemiological bulletin, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) confirms the improvement in the rates of infections and deaths, with a downward trend for at least three weeks.
In addition, for the first time since December, none of the 27 Brazilian states present an occupancy of more than 90% in their intensive care beds for patients with covid.
The threat of new variants
But the circulation of the virus is not under control and specialists warn of the risk of the emergence of new variants or that the Delta variant, considered more contagious, becomes predominant.
The Health Ministry has so far identified 27 cases of this variant (initially detected in India) and local authorities carry out intensive contact tracing to prevent it from spreading.
Some states reduced the interval between the first and second dose of some vaccines, in an attempt to anticipate full immunization.
“The only scenario that could change (the improvement trend) is that new variants emerge, or that the Delta alters transmission rates in Brazil,” Maciel said.
Back to normal?
Despite the position of President Jair Bolsonaro, who usually circulates without a mask and has questioned the safety of vaccines (which he himself refused to apply), a survey by the consultancy DataFolha revealed this week that 94% of Brazilians have already been vaccinated. or intends to do so, a record adherence since the start of the pandemic.
The consensus among specialists is that Brazil must maintain or increase the vaccination rate in order to fully resume activities (including face-to-face classes with 100% students) and begin to think about allowing massive events, such as the end of the year parties in Rio. de Janeiro and Carnival in February 2022, which this year had to be canceled.
“The return to normality is not yet on our horizon. We must have coverage of approximately 80% of the population, associated with a very low level of community circulation of the virus, to begin to allow crowds or parties like those to which we are accustomed, “says Sanchez.