As vaccination is accelerating in many countries and restrictions related to Covid-19 are gradually being lifted, Brazil is heading against the tide towards a third epidemic wave. The symbolic bar of 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 was crossed on Saturday, June 19. The average number of deaths there now exceeds 2,000 per day, an increase of 24% compared to the beginning of June, marking a return to the dramatic levels of April, the deadliest month of the pandemic, during which more than 82 000 Brazilians have died from Covid according to official figures.
“Half a million dead, that’s a larger population than most of the country’s big cities!” “, warns José Cassio de Moraes, epidemiologist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo. The reality would be even bleaker, with a large portion of Covid-19 deaths not being notified or diagnosed.
According to experts, the acceleration of the epidemic is primarily due to the circulation of several variants of Covid-19 in the country, including the now infamous P1 (Gamma), described as more transmissible, and which has appeared in the region. of Manaus (Amazonia), in December 2020. This would now represent nearly 90% of contaminations in the State of Sao Paulo, according to the Butantan Institute – local equivalent of the French Pasteur Institute. The latter also identified nineteen new strains in circulation in the same state.
Failed federal power
While barrier gestures are respected less and less, the vaccination campaign, which began in January, is still suffering from delays. Less than 12% of the population (24 million Brazilians) has so far received two doses of the vaccine (mostly from Chinese CoronaVac). Not enough to slow down the epidemic: “The more transmission is important and out of control, the greater the chances of new strains appearing”, deplores Claudio Maierovitch, researcher of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation.
Concern is also growing about the arrival in Brazil of the Delta variant (known as Indian). At the end of May, eight cases were detected in three states of the country: Maranhao (Nordeste), Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais (southeast). Its dissemination remains limited, but the first cases of community transmission have already been established.
Designated as the main responsible for the tragedy, President Jair Bolsonaro has not seen fit to pay tribute in recent days to the 500,000 victims of Covid-19. His management of the epidemic is increasingly contested today: Saturday, June 19, at the call of left-wing organizations, tens of thousands of Brazilians again took to the streets to protest against his policies. The processions gathered more people than during the previous mobilization, on May 29.
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