Society

Brazil surpasses 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19

Number of cases and deaths is on the rise; vaccination may start in late January, but at a slow pace

COVID-19 victim's body being buried in a cemetery in a city in the state of Amazonas, Brazil.
Municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, in Amazonas, has already registered 10 deaths from the disease and more than 3,800 confirmed cases. Foto: Paulo Desana/Dabakuri/Amazônia Real/Fotos Públicas
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  • Unlike August, when the country reached 100,000 deaths from the disease, the number of infections is growing, announcing a second wave of COVID-19 fueled by the holidays;
  • Lockdowns implemented by states and municipalities, apart from a nationally coordinated strategy, the lack of supplies for patient intubation, and now a shortage of syringes and needles are some examples of the confusion caused by Bolsonaro’s administration;
  • To date, the Ministry of Health of Brazil says it has guaranteed 354 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19; see list at the end of the text.

Ten months after the first victim of COVID-19 in Brazil, on March 16, Latin America’s largest country reached more than 200,000 deaths due to the disease, and almost 8 million confirmed cases. Brazil is the second country with more deaths in absolute numbers, behind only the United States.

The two countries have some things in common: both Presidents (Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump) lost themselves in denialism. They made their administrations take a long time to react and take the necessary measures to contain the advance of the greatest health crisis of this century. The main difference now is that Trump is leaving the US’ Presidency while Bolsonaro will continue to hold the post until the end of 2022.

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Unlike August, when the country reached 100,000 deaths from the disease, the number of infections is growing, announcing a second wave of COVID-19 fueled by the holidays.

Lockdowns implemented by states and municipalities, apart from a nationally coordinated strategy, the lack of supplies for patient intubation, and now a shortage of syringes and needles are some examples of the confusion caused by Bolsonaro’s administration.

READ ALSO: Mexico approves AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, minister says

On Wednesday night, the Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuello, in his first statement on the national television and radio network, said that Brazil “has already guaranteed 354 million doses of vaccine against COVID-19“. He also said that the vaccination would start in January, although the country does not yet have any vaccine approved.

The country’s greatest hope lies in two vaccines: Oxford, which was tested, and soon it will be produced in the country through a partnership between AstraZeneca‘s laboratory; and Fiocruz, and CoronaVac, from the Chinese Sinovac, which has a similar partnership with the Butantan Institute in the state of Sao Paulo.

Fiocruz has already requested importing 2 million doses from AstraZeneca’s laboratories in India to start vaccination here before using their own doses. In the first week of manufacturing, Fiocruz expects to produce 1 million doses, increasing this number gradually. The Foundation should produce doses of the vaccine for Brazil and other countries in Latin America, such as Argentina and Mexico. Fiocruz will request the vaccine’s emergency use in Brazil until January 15, when the final results on the vaccine’s effectiveness should be available.

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In the case of CoronaVac, the state of São Paulo has 10 million stored doses. The request for emergency use of the immunizer was made on Thursday by Fiocruz. The governor of São Paulo, João Dória, hopes to start vaccination in the state next January 25th. Anvisa is expected to respond to Fiocruz’s request in the coming days, making this plan tight but possible to be fulfilled.

China’s Sinovac vaccine presented a 78% effectiveness in late-stage Brazilian trials, Doria announced on a press conference on Thursday.

At a news conference on Thursday, Pazuello said that the Ministry of Health is negotiating a contract with the Butantan Institute to supply 100 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19 – 46 million by April and another 54 million doses by the end of the year. He said that all Butantan production “will be incorporated into the national immunization plan.

Between “practically closed” and other confirmed negotiations, Brazil therefore has:

  • 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines imported by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz);
  • 100.4 million doses of Fiocruz/AstraZeneca until July (gradual national production);
  • 110 million from Fiocruz/AstraZeneca (full national production) from August to December;
  • 42.5 million (probably from AstraZeneca) to be acquired through the international Covax/Facility mechanism, created by WHO to help developing countries to buy vaccines against COVID-19;
  • 100 million doses of the Butantan Institute (announced today, but not yet closed).