Brazil is facing the largest collapse of the health system in its history, according to researchers at the Brazilian Health Institute Vucruz, as the country records the largest number of weekly deaths since the start of the epidemic. Meanwhile, Chile has had to impose strict new lockdowns to deal with the severe second wave of infections, despite launching one of the fastest vaccine launches in the world.
Brazil recorded 18,164 deaths last week, bringing the total number of deaths to more than 300,000, which is higher than any other country except the United States. Many intensive care units in the country have reached their capacity. “The shortage of medicines, materials and intensive care beds is turning the situation into chaos,” says Renata Pierati Bueno, a doctor who works in three hospitals in Sao Paulo. She says shortages and shortages of trained personnel are causing unnecessary deaths.
The death rate in Brazil due to SARS-CoV-2 is already high: 8 out of 10 Brazilians who were tube inserted died as a result of the virus, compared to a global average of 5 in 10, says Fernando Boza of Vucruz, who
It is headquartered in Rio de Janeiro.
Information from hospitalization indicates that the virus is infecting more young people, says Rafael Guimarães of Vucruz. He says there has been a sudden increase in the number of people between the ages of 30 and 59 who need hospital treatment. “This means that the epidemic in Brazil is reaching younger populations,” he says.
The P.1 variant of the virus may be the cause of the soaring case numbers in Brazil. Studies indicate that the variant has mutations that help it avoid antibodies from previous infections or from vaccination, and thus may be able to re-infect people who are already infected.
Although the viral genetic sequence does not exist in Brazil, the samples analyzed show that the variant is now prevalent in some regions. “We have to think very hard that P.1 is causing an increase in the number of cases at the moment,” says Nono Varia of Imperial College London.
Researchers at Fiocruz called for tougher measures, including lockdowns to reduce unnecessary activity, increased use of face masks, and social distancing.
However, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently criticized the lockdowns, saying they will hurt the poor, and has publicly referred to regional leaders who impose them as “tyrants”. The president told his supporters at an event in Goiás on 5 March that the government regrets the deaths, but that there was “enough annoyance and whining”.
“The shortage of medicines, materials, and intensive care beds is turning the situation into chaos.”
The government has been slow to purchase vaccines and so far only 6.4 percent of the population has received a single dose.
The contagion appears to be stabilizing at a high level due to increasing interventions from countries imposing their draconian measures, says Jesem Orellana of Fiocruz, but the delay between infection and disease means the next two or three weeks will be crucial.
Meanwhile, Chile released 50.46 doses of the vaccine per 100 people. However, on March 25, the country recorded 6,196 new daily cases, reaching nearly 1 million cases in total. About 95 percent of the intensive care beds in the country are taken.
Strict lockdown measures have been in place from March 25 in almost all of the country. These include evening curfews and scheduling times for exercise. Everyone is only allowed out for basic activities twice a week, and they must request permits to do so.
The highly transmissible P.1 and B.1.1.7 variant, which was first seen in England, has been blamed along with a lot of travel during the summer season in Chile.
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