This week Brazil reported 1,641 deaths in a 24 hour period, and has reached 257,361 Covid-19 deaths nationwide. On a per capita basis, Brazil tops the list of Covid-19 deaths of any country in the world. To date, Brazil’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been largely uncoordinated with limited actions by various regional and state government agencies as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has refused calls from within Brazil to order face masks or even to create a national response.
Brazil begun to vaccinate its population in January, but only in small numbers as it has not embarked on a full scale vaccination program such as Israel, the U.K and the United States has done, instead leaving these decisions mostly up too states and cities to fend for themselves. Last week many cities began imposing lockdowns of their own in an effort to stop the rising number of new Covid-19 cases.
The Brazilian city of Manaus, deep inside the Amazon where it is hot and humid almost all year long, residents have seen a large surge in cases with many residents complaining that the federal government isn’t doing anything to help them. Hospitals have run out of oxygen and it is not uncommon to see family members going and getting oxygen from elsewhere in Brazil and bringing bottles of oxygen back to the hospital where their loved one is located.
Adding to the problems of a decentralized and unsupported response to the Covid-19 pandemic, is that the new Brazilian variant of Covid-19 appears to be much more contagious than the covid the world saw over the last year. Researchers are still not sure if the more contagious Brazilian variant is more deadly or not. Initial tests do show that Covid-19 vaccines are mostly effective at preventing severe symptoms requiring hospitalization and resulting in death.