Covid-19 crisis in Brazil and it is becoming a threat to humanity

Covid-19 cases in Brazil are increasing sharply (Reuters image)

Brazil has been witnessing 70,000 cases a day and 2, 000 deaths daily with the second wave of coronavirus having hit the country. The cases reached their highest level so far on March 10 when 80, 000 fresh cases were recorded and 2,286 cases occurred.

According to the John Hopkin University of Medicine data, 4,75,503 new cases were registered last week.

Here’s why is this resurgence of cases in Brazil and what is its wider implication?

How serious are the Covid-19 crises in Brazil?

Brazil has recorded more than 11.2 million cases and close to 2,70,000 deaths so far. Last month, there were 1,59,789 cases and 38, 836 deaths. Brazil is in the third spot among the worst affected countries with only the United States and India leading it.

Brazil’s daily case count and deaths due to Covid-19, reported daily is the highest in the world now. The death count in the country is second after the US. The issue is concerning because the surge happened after a prolonged dip last year causing the situation to go out of hands in Brazil’s health care system.

A total of 13 states in Brazil have hospitals operating with more than 90 per cent ICU occupancy and in 25 of the 27 capitals in the country, 80 per cent of the patients are under ICU care, said a report published by the state-run Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz).

Why Covid-19 cases are rising in Brazil?

According to health experts, the Brazil variant of Coronavirus, a more contagious virus, P.1 is behind the rise in spread and thousands of deaths in Brazil.

The P.1 variant is far more infectious, spread faster and can even affect the ones who have once suffered from Covid-19. The variant first affected Manaus, the capital of the northern state of Amazonas and then by the end of February has spread to 21 states in Brazil.

According to the genome sequencing results, the P.1 variant is the results of several mutations located in the spike protein receptor-binding domain, a region of the virus that was involved in the recognition of angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 receptor cell surface receptor.

According to Dr Roberto Kraenkel of the Covid-19 Brazil Observatory, the p.1 strain is double as contagious as the original virus and can affect people who have naturally developed antibodies against the virus due to earlier infection. He even called the variant, “atom”.

What has worsened the matter further, is the country’s slow pace of vaccination. To date, only 4 per cent of the population has received their first vaccine dose. The national association of health secretaries has also warned about the crisis happening in every region of Brazil if such situation of vaccination and procuring of doses prevail.

Brazil has also failed to procure enough doses, and President Jair Bolsonaro’s scepticism about vaccine has not helped either.

President Bolsonaro role in handling the new variant crisis

President Jair Bolsonaro recently attracted controversy when during a public event he asked Brazilians to “stop whining” about Covid-19. He even asked them to come out of homes defying all odds and concerns about getting infected with Covid-19 and go back to normal. The President has always been opposed to restrictions like social distancing and cynical about wearing masks. And even repeatedly downplayed the implications of the crisis.

Bolsonaro himself has on several occasion flouted social distancing measures and got infected with Covid last year. He has also fired his Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta who opposed him and called for following distancing norms strictly.

Although partial lockdown has been imposed in certain states this has made it difficult for them to get art funding through cultural projects. He has questioned the efficacy of the Covid vaccine multiple times and even said that it can cause extreme side-effects like turning a person into a crocodile.

The scientific community who has vehemently criticised Bolsaro’s outlook and comments, now fear that the country leader is the reason why people are distancing them from the vaccination drive making things worse.

Global implication of the crisis in Brazil

According to epidemiologists, Brazil will soon become an open-air breeding ground for the virus were with uncontrolled outbreaks dangerous strains of the SARA-CoV-2 virus will be produced, posing a serious threat to humanity. According to expert, Jesem Orellana of Fiocruz/Amazonia, the only hope for containing the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil the “miracle of mass-vaccination” or a drastic change of the management.

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