covid-19:-brazil-specialists-subject-warning-as-hospitals-‘near-collapse’

picture copyrightReuters

picture captionOn Tuesday the nation recorded 1,972 deaths, a brand new every day document

Health techniques in most of Brazil’s largest cities are near collapse due to Covid-19 instances, its main well being institute warns.

More than 80% of intensive care unit beds are occupied within the capitals of 25 of Brazil’s 27 states, Fiocruz stated.

Experts warn that the extremely contagious variant in Brazil could have knock-on results within the area and past.

“Brazil is a threat to humanity,” Fiocruz epidemiologist Jesem Orellana advised the AFP information company.

The nation has recorded greater than 266,000 deaths and 11 million instances because the pandemic started.

It has the second highest variety of deaths on this planet after the US and the third highest variety of confirmed instances.

Despite this, President Jair Bolsonaro has constantly opposed quarantine measures and professional recommendation on combating coronavirus.

What’s the state of affairs in Brazil?

On Tuesday the nation recorded 1,972 Covid deaths, a brand new every day document.

According to Fiocruz, 15 state capitals have intensive care models (ICUs) which can be at greater than 90% capability together with Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Some reviews say Brasilia has now reached full ICU capability, whereas two cities – Porto Alegre and Campo Grande – have exceeded capability.

In its report, the institute warned that figures level to the “overload and even collapse of health systems”.

Brazilian epidemiologist Dr Pedro Hallal advised the BBC: “The state is pretty much collapsing… It’s kind of a lockdown but it really won’t be enough.

“If we don’t begin vaccinating the inhabitants right here very quickly, it is going to change into a large tragedy.”

Dr Hallal, who works in Rio Grande do Sul, said staff felt “deserted by the federal authorities”.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attacked President Bolsonaro for his handling of the pandemic. In his first speech since corruption convictions against him were annulled, he said: “Many of those deaths may have been averted.”

On Tuesday, the country recorded more than 70,000 cases, a 38% increase on last week, according to local media. The surge in cases has been attributed to the spread of a highly contagious variant of the virus – named P1 – which is thought to have originated in the Amazon city of Manaus.

What do we know about the Brazil variant?

Preliminary data from the University of São Paulo, Imperial College London and Oxford University suggests the P1 variant could be up to twice as transmittable as the original version of the virus.

It also suggests that the new variant could evade immunity built up by having had the original version of Covid. The chance of reinfection is put at between 25% and 60%.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionThe new coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil has led to a surge in deaths in the country

Last week, the Fiocruz Institute said that P1 was just one of several “variants of concern” that have become dominant in six of eight states studied by the Rio de Janeiro-based organisation.

“This data is an atomic bomb,” said Roberto Kraenkel, of the Covid-19 Brazil Observatory, told the Washington Post.

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the situation in Brazil as “very regarding” and warned of a possible regional spillover.

“If Brazil will not be severe, then it is going to proceed to have an effect on all of the neighbourhood there and past.”

Scientists are concerned that Brazil has almost become a “pure laboratory” – where people can see what happens when coronavirus goes relatively unchecked.

Some warn the country is now a breeding ground for new variants of the virus, unhindered by effective social distancing and fuelled by vaccine shortages.

That’s because the longer a virus circulates in a country, the more chances it has to mutate – in this case giving rise to P1.

Scientists say it is partly the spread of P1 around Brazil that is behind the current devastating upsurge in infections.

Global experts are calling for a plan – including rapid vaccination, lockdowns, and strict social distancing measures – to get the situation under control.

Viruses do not respect borders. The worry is that the P1 variant is a looming threat over the progress made in the region and the wider world.

Current vaccines are, on the whole, still effective against the variant but may be less so than against the earlier versions of the virus they were designed to fight.

Much of this evidence comes from lab studies and preliminary research involving a relatively small number of people.

Studies are ongoing but experts will get their most robust understanding of how well these vaccines work against P1 as they continue to monitor people who have been vaccinated in the real world.

Scientists are confident that, if necessary, vaccines can be tweaked fairly quickly to work against new variants.

Which vaccines work against the variant?

Brazil has ordered more than 200 million doses of the AstraZeneca and CoronaVac vaccine. So far, more than eight million people have had their first dose, representing just 4% of the population.

Fiocruz’s head of production, Mauricio Zuma, said on Monday that preliminary studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine showed it would protect against the P1 variant. However, the Oxford team behind the vaccine earlier said it offers less protection – but should still protect against severe illness.

media captionBrazil: Can you vaccinate a whole town against Covid?

According to Reuters, another Brazilian study has indicated the CoronaVac vaccine, made by China’s Sinovac biopharmaceutical company, is effective against the same variant.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been able to combat the Brazil variant, according to laboratory research published on Tuesday by the New England Journal of Medicine. Blood taken from people who had been given the vaccine “neutralised” an engineered version of the virus that contained the same mutations found in the Brazil variant.

However, the Pfizer vaccine has not yet been rolled out in the country, as the Brazilian authorities are still in negotiations with the company over its purchase. According to Reuters, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said Pfizer had agreed to deliver 14m doses by June after a video call with President Bolsonaro.

Since the start of the pandemic, President Bolsonaro has sought to downplay the threat posed by the virus, and earlier this week he told people to “cease whining”.

A number of quarantine measures have been taken by mayors and regional governors, which Mr Bolsonaro has opposed, arguing that the collateral damage to the economy will be worse than the effects of the virus itself.

media captionSão Paulo Governor Mr Doria has described President Jair Bolsonaro as a “loopy man” who is making the country’s coronavirus situation worse