Brazil’s Spike in COVID-19 Infections Raises WHO Concerns – Duke University Expert Calls Country ‘Breeding Ground’ for SARS CoV2 Virus
The Brazilian state of Acre declared a state of emergency, facing rising COVID cases, a dengue epidemic, and flooding.

NEW YORK CITY – Although North America is experiencing an overall decline in new COVID-19 cases and deaths, Brazil and other localized hotspots in South America are experiencing a dramatic spike in infection and hospitalization rates, said WHO officials in the region’s Washington DC-based Americas office. 

In a Wednesday briefing, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) director Dr. Carissa F. Etienne expressed particular concern regarding countries and areas in the Amazon Basin. “The Brazilian state of Acre has just declared a state of emergency due to a deadly combination of COVID-19 infections, a dengue epidemic, and flooding in several cities,” she said. 

“Nearly 94% of [Acre’s] ICU is occupied and the health system is collapsing as more and more patients require hospitalization.” 

Her comments followed an outspoken interview in the Guardian by Duke University neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, who called Brazil a “breeding ground for this virus” due to its lack of effective control of the pandemic. 

“If you allow the virus to proliferate at the levels it is currently proliferating here, you open the door to the occurrence of new mutations and the appearance of even more lethal variants,” said Nicolelis, complaining of the government’s lack of direction in controlling cases. 

As of 3 March, Brazil reports 10, 587, 001 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 255,720 deaths. 

With Second Wave of Pandemic in Brazil, People Cannot Remain Complacent

Nicolelis, who has been self-confined to an apartment in São Paulo for most of the pandemic, called Brazil’s response a “domestic tragedy”. The failures of the far-right  president Jair Bolsonaro to implement effective prevention measures, such as masking and social distancing,  and more recently, a vaccination campaign, will impact the country until late 2020, Nicolelis said. 

Speaking at the PAHO briefing, incident manager Sylvain Aldighieri said:  “Brazil at this point in time is confronting a second wave of the pandemic, which is nationwide. This is impacting their health services, including ICU use – the rate of occupancy of beds in ICUs,” said 

Algieri also stressed the impact the virus has on the health supply chain, given the oxygen and access to special medicines needed to those who are in the ICU. 

The ongoing situation in Brazil only serves to remind us that remaining complacent during the COVID-19 pandemic can result in immeasurable loss of life. 

Etienne called on several lessons to guide the world moving forward in coming months. “As we prepare for the next crisis, first, our COVID-19 response has been strongest when it has been guided by data and science. When we use policies in data and science, we save lives.” 

“Second, public health is a global concern. COVID-19 showed us that a deadly virus that emerges halfway around the world can be a threat to anyone, anywhere. Third, access to quality health care should be universal. Where we live or how much money you have should not determine whether you live or die from COVID-19, or any disease. ”

Image Credits: IMF/ Raphael Alves.

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