Thousands and thousands of graves opened in the largest cemetery in São Paulo, Vila Formosa
Thousands and thousands of graves opened in the largest cemetery in São Paulo, Vila Formosa. Photo: BW Press/Shutterstock

300,000 deaths

The morbid milestone was reached in Brazil this Wednesday. The day before, 3,000 died from COVID-19 in a single day – it is as if, every 30 seconds, we lose someone

Ler em português

Just over a year after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America, Brazil has reached the sad mark of 300,015 deaths. Overcrowded ICUs, lack of beds, medicines, and oxygen are Brazilians’ reality in recent weeks. All this in the midst of leaders’ denialism and the neglect of part of the population itself, which sees vaccination against the novel coronavirus moving at a slow pace. Every day the federal government “adjusts” the number of doses expected to arrive or be produced in the country. Even the local production of two immunizers – Oxford/AstraZeneca, by FioCruz, and CoronaVac, by Instituto Butantan – is not enough to speed up the pace.


Pressured on the one hand by the productive sector and on the other by exhausted health professionals, governors and mayors try to impose restrictions on circulation to contain the chaos. But nothing close to a real lockdown is actually implemented.

In a speech to the nation last Tuesday, President Jair Bolsonaro seemed to live in a parallel reality. Even when saying that he is sorry, he did not touch people’s hearts.

READ ALSO: Pandemic exposes inequality in Latin America: what can we expect (and what we can’t) from our leaders?

As the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper recalled this Wednesday, the 300 thousand deaths milestone arrives only 75 days after that of 200 thousand. Every day, TV stations, radio, newspapers, and websites show the people and family’s stories behind these numbers. It is difficult and painful to keep up with the morbid rhythm of COVID-19 in Brazil. The lump in our throats is constant.

Although it accounts for 2.7% of the world population, Brazil has registered 11% of deaths from the disease in the world so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Looking at another source of data, Our World in Data, by the University of Oxford, we can clearly see the slow pace of vaccination against Sars-Cov-2 in the country.

READ ALSO: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is denounced at the UN for humanitarian tragedy due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Although Brazil appears in fifth place in the number of vaccines applied per 100 inhabitants, the gap in comparison to the fourth place, the United States, is huge. While the proportion in Brazil is at 7.19 per 100 people, in the U.S., it is 38.34. In Latin America, the country that has made the most progress in immunization is Chile, with 46.92 vaccines per 100 inhabitants. To date, only 1.7% of the 212 million Brazilians are fully vaccinated.

The lack of supplies, vaccines and all kinds of equipment and medicines to cope with the demand caused by the pandemic is widespread. But it is difficult to accept that a symbolic country when it comes to mass vaccination is at this pace.

Also on Tuesday, the country exceeded, for the first time, the 3,000 daily deaths from the disease. Record as morbid as that of the U.S. alone, which recorded more than 4,000 deaths in one day in January this year.

READ ALSO: Chile adopts restrictive measures for travelers from Brazil

In January, a report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC / UN) highlighted the need for greater collaboration between countries in the region to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, not only the economic ones but those linked to them directly combating COVID-19.

Brazil could have led partnerships in this regard, but it did not. Argentina and Mexico are articulating in a much better way. In August, they announced a partnership to jointly produce 200 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for all of Latin America, except Brazil. The partnership started effectively in January this year. While Argentina produces the active substance in the vaccine, at the mAbxience laboratory, Mexico completes the process and packs the medicine for transport.