This Saturday, Brazil surpassed the 500,000 death mark by Covid-19 and is facing the threat of the third wave of an aggravated pandemic, according to specialists, by the opposition of the government of Jair Bolsonaro to the use of masks and social distancing.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, in the last 24 hours there were 2,301 deaths, bringing the total to 500,800.
“Five hundred thousand lives lost by the pandemic that affects our Brazil and the whole world”, tweeted the minister. The number of cases of the disease has increased today by 82,888, totaling 17,883,750.
Until now, the United States alone had passed half a million deaths. There, however, mortality and infection rates have dropped considerably since January, while Brazil experienced a second wave of the disease this year and is threatened by a third.
The seven-day daily death toll is again above 2,000, having dropped to 1,660 earlier this month. The number of infected has surpassed 70,000 for five days, for the first time since mid-April.
“The third wave is coming, there is already a change in our curve of cases and deaths. We have slow vaccinations, which could make a difference, and we do not have signs of restriction measures, quite the opposite,” epidemiologist Ethel Maciel, from the University of Espírito Santo (Ufes), told AFP.
In relative terms, with 235 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Brazil is among the 10 countries most affected by the disease, which has already killed 3.8 million people in the world, according to a balance updated daily by the AFP based on official data.
For Fiocruz, the country faces a “critical” situation, with “a high plateau of covid-19 transmission, with the possibility of worsening in the coming weeks, with the arrival of winter”.
The level of occupancy of beds in intensive care units (ICU) exceeds 80% in 19 of the 27 states in the country and 90% in eight of them, detailed Fiocruz.
The pressure on the health system evokes the horrific images recorded earlier this year in Manaus, Amazonas, where dozens of people died of asphyxia from lack of medical oxygen in hospitals. However, life seems almost normal in big cities, with restaurants and businesses open and many people without masks in the streets.
– ‘marathoner’ pandemic –
“It looks like we didn’t come out of the first wave. Looks like it’s just been reduced. It seems that now the pandemic has turned into a marathon runner, which is measuring its way of taking the test”, said Alexandre da Silva, researcher and doctor in public health at the University of São Paulo (USP).
Silva believes that Brazil, more than a pandemic, is experiencing a “syndemic”, in which the health emergency is mutually potentiated by socioeconomic devastation.
“Unfortunately, Brazil is a time bomb [por causa da pandemia]. If the vaccines do not arrive, if we insist on this non-coordination of social actors for the health and social assistance policy, we run the risk of having many unnecessary deaths”, warns Silva.
The vaccination campaign, which started in mid-January, suffered a series of interruptions due to a lack of supplies, but important quantities of lots arrived in recent days, allowing for speeding up immunization in cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Still, only 29% of the population received the first dose of the vaccine and 11.36% the second, according to official data.
– ‘Covid Cup’ –
Bolsonaro opposes the containment measures, questions the effectiveness of vaccines and the usefulness of masks, and promotes drugs with no proven efficacy against Covid.
“As long as I’m president, as long as I have a leader in Paralmento as well, we’re going to fight for the good citizen to have guns and be released from wearing a mask,” Bolsonaro said on Thursday in his weekly live broadcast.
This attitude led him to host in Brazil this month the Copa América, which had been rejected by Colombia due to its social conflicts and by Argentina because of the pandemic.
The president recently participated in several motorcycles and demonstrations, with an eye on the October 2022 elections. The opposition today mobilized, for the second time in less than a month, tens of thousands of people in hundreds of cities across the country, to denounce the administration of the pandemic by the government.
For Ethel Maciel, thousands of deaths could have been avoided “by giving concrete information to the population about public health measures”, but “none of this was done” and the government turned the pandemic into “an ideological fight”.
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