Brazil is suffering the brunt of an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases. On Tuesday, deaths topped 4,000 in a single day and hospitals were stretched to the point of rupture.
As the United States pushes vaccinations and public debates reopen the economy with possible “vaccination passports”, Brazil’s plight is a reminder that much of the rest of the world is still affected by the pandemic.
“It’s a nuclear reactor that started a chain reaction and got out of hand. It’s a biological Fukushima,” Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian doctor and professor at Duke University, told Reuters.
According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the death toll in Brazil of 337,000 is only exceeded by 562,000 in the US, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
According to health experts, the country is struggling with a highly contagious local variant amid low social distancing efforts and a national shortage of hospital beds. Many blame right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro repeatedly denied the benefit of wearing masks and questioned the Effectiveness of vaccines, contrary to global health advice.
Brazil also went through four Minister of Health planning has slowed since the beginning of the pandemic, and some Brazilians followed suit Countries like Uruguay be vaccinated. The authorities in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, have emptied old graves Make way amid the rising death toll.
Despite the recent surge, Brazilian officials insist that the country can soon return to something that resembles normal business operations.
“We believe that Brazil could probably be back in business in two or three months,” Economic Minister Paulo Guedes said during an online event on Tuesday. Now leading economists urged the government in an open letter Speeding up vaccinations and preparing for emergency lockdowns contradicts Bolsonaro’s claims that such lockdowns could mean too much financial hardship.
The surge in deaths around the world is a grim reminder that, despite successful vaccinations in the US, UK and other countries, the global pandemic cannot be suppressed while the virus persists and mutations develop.
“No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone,” the World Health Organization said in a statement last week. “The Covid-19 pandemic was a strong and painful reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Rowland Kao, professor of veterinary epidemiology and data science at the University of Edinburgh, said that while vaccines and social constraints work, “we definitely don’t go beyond that and speak globally,” he said.
“The worst thing you can have is having significant numbers of people vaccinated at the same time as significant numbers of unvaccinated people with circulating disease,” he told NBC News. A scenario that increases the chances of transmission and spread of mutant variants that “dodge the vaccine” while jeopardizing global travel and trade.
Kao said it would take a “balancing act” for countries to get moving again. “It’s going to be a game that you can leave out long enough to be boosted by variations,” he added. “It only takes one person to cross a line.”
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In other countries, the pandemic continues to worsen.
India reported a record 115,736 new cases on Wednesday, a 13-fold increase in just over two months, with increasing pressure on the government to expand its vaccination campaign.
As a second wave gains momentum, the federal government has asked states to decide on local restrictions to control the spread of the virus, but has so far refused to impose a national lockdown after the last one in 2020 devastated the economy would have.
“The pandemic is not over yet and there is no room for complacency,” tweeted Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, urging people to “get vaccinated on your train and conscientiously follow Covid-appropriate behavior!”
In other Asian countries, South Korea reported the highest number of new cases in a day in three months on Wednesday as the number of infections rose in kindergartens, saunas, bars and churches, mainly in the greater Seoul area. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 668 new cases Tuesday, the highest since Jan. 8.
While in Japan, where the Olympics are slated to begin in just over 100 days, the western region of Osaka on Wednesday canceled scheduled Olympic torch events and declared a state of medical emergency as cases skyrocketed.
“It is almost certain that this mutant strain is highly contagious with a high transmission speed,” Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said on television announcements. “The medical system is in a very tense situation.”
Arata Yamamoto contributed.