Brazil’s second largest city, Rio de Janeiro, recorded 36,437 deaths in March – 16% more than the month’s 32,060 newborns, according to the national civil register. It wasn’t alone; At least 10 other Brazilian cities with populations over half a million
also recorded more deaths than births in the past month.
Cities across the country have been hit hard by a recent surge in cases
and deaths in Covid-19, caused in part by new variants believed to be particularly contagious, as well as disregard for social precautions by some Brazilians. The dire death-to-birth ratio is another lens to a national crisis that federal and local officials have largely failed to contain in more than a year of the pandemic
According to statistics from Johns Hopkins University, 77,515 people died of Covid-19 across Brazil last month and over 2 million new cases were diagnosed. All but three of the 27 Brazilian states and federal districts currently have intensive care units utilization of 80% or more, according to data from the state health ministers.
The introduction of vaccines in Brazil has been slow and has been plagued by internal political disputes and difficulties in obtaining vaccine doses from the start. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, only 6.3 million people – about 3% of the population – were fully vaccinated. The same ministry statement said 21.1 million people received at least one dose of the vaccine – but that at least 1.5 million of them are behind schedule for their second shot.
Both the Coronavac and AstraZeneca vaccines that the country depends on require two doses. The Ministry of Health has not given any reasons why some Brazilians did not receive their second dose. However, the local media has raised problems with the public with confusion or misconceptions about the importance of the second dose and the difficulties faced by low-income Brazilians in accessing vaccination centers.
As long as the corona virus circulates uncontrolled, new mutations could arise, according to experts. Existing coronavirus variants in the country are already triggering an alarm. The P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, is leading to an increase in cases in neighboring countries and this week caused France to suspend flights to and from the country.
Bombastic President Jair Bolsonaro has accepted vaccines and recently turned to Russia for a possible deal on the Sputnik V vaccine. However, critics wish he would apply the same urgency to other fronts in the fight against the coronavirus. The president has repeatedly downplayed the threat of Covid-19 – which he once called “minor flu” – and insists that the country’s economic health must take precedence over lockdown measures.
In public statements last week, Bolsonaro vowed never to accept a national lockdown strategy to contain the coronavirus – despite requests from the United Nations and the prestigious Brazilian medical research center Fiocruz. He seemed unaffected by the sobering death toll and rising cases in the country, which he shrugged off as “spilled milk” during an April 7 event in the southern Brazilian city of Foz do Iguacu.
“We will not cry over spilled milk. We are still experiencing a pandemic, some of which is used politically not to defeat the virus, but to try to overthrow the president. We are all responsible for what is happening in Brazil . ” “Said Bolsonaro.” In which country in the world have there been no deaths? Unfortunately people are dying everywhere. “