Brazil leads 2021 COVID-19 death toll worldwide. Number of victims nears 490k

The rate of death is 4.4x that of the rest of the world. “3 quarters of deaths in Brazil were preventable,” says epidemiologist

June 16, 2021 by Brasil de Fato
Next Saturday, June 19th, a new series of protests demanding Bolsonaro's removal for his handling of the pandemic will take place all over Brazil. Photo: Eduardo Miranda

Brazil is the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 victims in total and in 2021, tops the world ranking when it comes to fatalities. With about 293,000 deaths in the first half of the year alone, the country follows a trend opposite to that of countries that worked on monitoring and stemming the spread of the coronavirus. The slow pace of vaccination and the negative influence coming from the Jair Bolsonaro government, which promotes events with no mask wearing and makes it difficult for the country to acquire doses of inoculations, all contribute to the current scenario in Brazil.

Life and Death

In addition to jeopardizing efforts to control the spread of the virus, Bolsonaro continues to support and promote drugs that have been proven ineffective against the disease; such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. In addition to not working, they carry the risk of serious side effects. “It is now clear who has learned their lesson and who still insists on hydroxychloroquine and on not adopting social distancing measures,” highlights biologist and scientific publisher Atila Iamarino.

Epidemiologist and former dean of the Federal University of Pelotas (Ufpel), Pedro Hallal, analyzes the global average number of deaths in relation to the number of inhabitants, and concludes that the current scenario is one of calamity in Brazil. “Three out of every four deaths that have occurred so far in Brazil would have been avoided if we were on par with the world average. We could have also been better than average, and have saved even more lives.”

He explains the calculations on which he based his conclusions: “In a year and a half, COVID-19 claimed 3.8 million lives worldwide (one death for every 2,000 people). In Brazil, in less than 1.5 years, COVID-19 claimed 480 thousand lives (one death for every 454 people). Therefore, our cumulative mortality rate is 4.4 times that of the rest of the world.”

Copa America

In another move “to aid the virus”, Bolsonaro decided to bring the Copa America football tournament to Brazil. The competition kicked off last Sunday, May 13th, with low television ratings and marred by uncertainty and criticism. The consequences are already clear: Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru registered cases of contagion among their athletes. The teams taking part in the tourney have players who play in 23 different nations across all continents.

The possibility of a “mixture” of different viral strains worries authorities and scientists, as they can lead the coronavirus to mutate into more lethal variants with easier transmission. In turn, the effectiveness of the vaccines currently available may be lost.

For example in Peru, which recently revised its data to account for a major under reporting of the death toll, there are at least four variants of the Sars-Cov-2 virus circulating at the moment. These are mutations classified as “of concern” by health authorities for bringing greater risks to the population.

The Health Secretariat of the Federal District, better known as the nation’s capital, Brasilia, and one of the regions hosting Copa America games, issued a statement to express its concern over the new strains. “The movement of people increases the risk that new variants of SARS-CoV-2 will enter, as well as the risk of introducing and spreading other infectious agents, causing outbreaks that are of concern to public health” he stated.

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