With more than 300,000 infected in a week, Brazil goes back to peak levels of COVID-19

The pandemic has been advancing at increased rates for more than a month; number of deaths has accelerated for four weeks

December 16, 2020 by Brasil de Fato
Vista aérea do setor destinado a mortos pela covid no cemitério de Manaus em novembro de 2020. Photo: Michel Dantas/ AFP

With the number of people being contaminated by COVID-19 growing non-stop for six weeks, Brazil again registered more than 300,000 new cases in just seven days. The country had surpassed the 300,000 mark only on four occasions in July, when the number of COVID-19 infections reached the worst levels ever observed in the nation.

According to data from the National Council of Health Secretaries (Conass), the total number of new confirmed cases last week reached 302,950. The figure may be even bigger, since the most recent data from the state of Goiás is missing due to technical reasons. With that, the average rate of infection over the past seven days remains above 43,000. It is the worst level in the past four months.

On Sunday, another 21,825 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Brazil. The total number of people who have been infected since the first case was recorded is 6,901,952. The death toll has reached 181,402. Over the last 24 hours, 279 deaths were reported.

Immunization plan

Less than 24 hours after being presented by the federal government to the Federal Supreme Court (STF), the National Immunization Campaign against the coronavirus has already been criticized by the very experts cited in the document. A group of 36 researchers released a statement explaining that, despite having their names in the proposal, they had not seen the final version and do not endorse its recommendations. The Ministry of Health replied that scientists have no “decision-making power in formalizing the plan.”

The confusion started on Saturday, December 12th, when experts made their disagreements with the plan public. The group reiterated the inclusion of all vulnerable populations as a priority for immunization, including indigenous peoples, Quilombola (black rural communes) communities, riverside populations, people deprived of liberty and people with disabilities. The government’s plan includes only health professionals and people over 60.

A day later, also via a press release, the Ministry of Health stated that “the professionals cited by the Executive in the Immunization Plan against COVID-19 are technicians chosen as guests” and that their participation is “opinion based.” According to the Ministry, the group has no authority to outline the formal version of the plan.

What the plan says

The document delivered to the STF after pressure from political parties, entities and civil society, provides for 108.3 million doses and the inoculation of about 51 million people from priority groups. There is no start date for the vaccination campaign. According to the Ministry of Health, this decision will only be taken after the vaccine is approved. Even so, the plan provides for the immunization of people from high risk groups in the first half of 2021.

On Sunday, December 13th the Supreme Court established a 48-hour deadline for Minister Eduardo Pazuello to announce the start and end dates of the vaccination campaign. Supreme Court magistrate Ricardo Lewandowski, summoned general Pazuello to provide clarifications on the matter, including details on the phases of the immunization plan.

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