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Brazil inches close to half a million Covid-19 deaths, second worst-hit globally

As of Friday, Brazil has registered 498,499 deaths and a total of 17,801,462 confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to the official data. Brazil continues to be the second worst-hit nation globally - second after the United States. In the last week, Brazil saw 2,000 deaths per day on average.
A health worker treats a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patient at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the Ronaldo Gazolla Hospital, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil June 18, 2021.(REUTERS)
Updated on Jun 19, 2021 08:48 PM IST
Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Arpan Rai, New Delhi

Already battered by the delayed vaccination campaign and the government's staunch opposition to social distancing measures, Brazil is expected to cross the grim milestone of at least half a million deaths due to coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

As of Friday, Brazil has registered 498,499 deaths and a total of 17,801,462 confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to the official data. Brazil continues to be the second worst-hit nation globally - second after the United States. In the last week, Brazil saw 2,000 deaths per day on average.

Adding to Brazil's woes, the slow-paced vaccination campaign has seen only 11% of Brazilians fully vaccinated. The crisis, experts say, may worsen with the winter arriving in the southern hemisphere and new variants of the coronavirus circulating, deaths will continue to mount even if immunizations gain steam.

The virus-driven crisis is far from over for the Americas as officials recorded 1.1 million new cases and 31,000 deaths in the last week. Six Mexican states - Belize, Guatemala, Panama and parts of the Caribbean continue to see a surge.

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The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned that Colombia's Covid-19 situation is at its worst point yet, with intensive care unit beds filled in major cities.

As seen with several nations battling the viral disease, experts suggest that the deaths in Brazil are not going to slow down before they reach close to a million.

"I think we are going to reach 700,000 or 800,000 deaths before we get to see the effects of vaccination," Gonzalo Vecina, former head of Brazilian health regulator Anvisa, was quoted a saying by Reuters.

"We are experiencing the arrival of these new variants and the Indian variant will send us for a loop," Vecina said, predicting a near-term acceleration in fatalities.

The former health official criticized far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic, including the lack of a coordinated national response and his skepticism toward vaccines, lockdowns and mask-wearing requirements, which he has sought to loosen.

Raphael Guimaraes, a researcher at the Brazilian biomedical center Fiocruz pointed out the downfall of the delayed vaccination programme.

Guimaraes said the full effects of the inoculation drive would not be felt until September or later.

Brazil could revisit scenes from the worst of its March-April peak when the country averaged 3,000 deaths per day, he warned.

"We are still in an extremely critical situation, with very high transmission rates and hospital bed occupancy that is still critical in many places," he said.

This week, new confirmed cases in Brazil accelerated to more than 70,000 per day on average, edging past India for the most in the world.

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