Worsening Scenario

Brazil becomes the pandemic’s epicenter: number of cases and deaths continue to rise

Country is in its worst phase since the start of the crisis; epidemiologists warn that the coming weeks will be tragic

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Brazil is now the epicenter of the pandemic: number of cases and deaths continue to rise - Silvio Avila/HCPA

Over a period of 24 hours, last Wednesday, February 3rd, Brazil recorded 1,910 deaths by covid-19, a new record for the nation, which already totals around 260 thousand deaths and more than 10.7 million infections.

The figure was released by the National Council of Health Secretaries (Conass), cementing the country’s worst moment to date since the beginning of the pandemic. Other factors indicate that the scenario is likely to worsen.

Today, Brazil is the epicenter of the covid-19 outbreak on the planet. While the rest of the world showed a drop in the number of cases and deaths for around six consecutive weeks, Brazil has been experiencing the opposite since the end of November.

Clusters of New Year's Eve parties and Carnaval celebrations - which was officially canceled, but saw large gatherings in February - decisively contributed to the situation spinning out of control.

Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, one of the leading scientific research figures in the country, told the The Guardian in an interview that, “Brazil is an open-air laboratory for the virus to proliferate and eventually evolve into more lethal mutations. This is about the world. It's global".

According to the researcher, the failure of the Bolsonaro government in stemming the epidemic and implementing an adequate vaccination campaign, may have led to the current scenario, which is already serious, reaching even more catastrophic levels.

"We have already surpassed 250 thousand deaths and my expectation is that if nothing is done, we could lose 500 thousand people here in Brazil by March. It is a horrible and tragic prospect, but at this moment it is perfectly possible", he warned.

On the same day that Brazil reached another record number of Covid-19 deaths, President Jair Bolsonaro said that if it were up to him, the country would never have a lockdown. "Never, a policy that has not worked anywhere in the world. In the United States, several states have announced that they no longer have a [lockdown]. I do not want to discuss this issue there," the president said.

The USA is engaged in an accelerated vaccination process for its population, as of now having provided shots to 23.8% of Americans. Brazil is behind in this race (only 3.5% of people have been vaccinated) and still faces the spread of the Brazilian coronavirus variant (P1), which is more transmissible than the original novel coronavirus.

Healthcare collapse

Last Tuesday, February 2nd, The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) published a bulletin that highlighted the most serious moment of the pandemic so far, with a tendency for the situation to worsen throughout the nation.

“For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a simultaneous worsening of several factors throughout the country, such as an increase in the number of cases and deaths, the continuity of high levels of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SRAG), a high number of positive tests results and hospitals reaching their capacity. At the moment, 19 states in the Federation have ICU occupancy rates above 80%”, he says.

In addition to the explosion of new cases, not to mention under reporting, the country continues to do little testing on its population. These factors combined, lead entities and scientists to affirm that the Brazilian tragedy is certainly greater than what the official data shows.

Edited by: Vivian Fernandes