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Brazil's COVID-19 catastrophe 'like an atomic bomb'

Health experts and lawmakers have warned that Brazil is steaming into the darkest days of its coronavirus catastrophe, as fatalities soared to new heights and one prominent politician compared the crisis to an atomic bomb. The Guardian reports that politicians from across the spectrum voiced anger and exasperation at the deteriorating situation after Brazil’s weekly average of COVID deaths hit its highest level since the epidemic began last February and hospitals around the country reported being swamped.

“We are living through one of the worst moments in our history,” said Tasso Jereissati, an influential centre-right politician who is among a group of senators demanding a congressional investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro’s globally condemned handling of the pandemic.

The Guardian quotes Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was Bolsonaro’s health minister until he was fired last April, as saying that Brazil’s failure to launch a rapid vaccination scheme meant the average daily death toll could soon rise to over 2,000.

It has now been just over a year since Brazil registered its first official COVID case, on 26 February. Brazil’s first death was recorded in mid-March.

Mandetta, who was fired after challenging Bolsonaro over COVID, has claimed that before leaving government he warned the president the death toll could reach 180,000 before a vaccine was found. But Bolsonaro, who has trivialised COVID as “a bit of a cold”, ignored those appeals, resisted quarantine measures and, one year into the outbreak, continues to undermine lockdown efforts by disparaging masks and promoting crowded public events.

According to the report, so far just 3.8% of Brazil’s population has been vaccinated with state capitals such as Rio, Salvador, Cuiabá, Porto Alegre and Florianópolis among the cities forced to temporarily suspend immunisation for lack of shots.

 

[link url="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/01/brazil-coronavirus-deaths-highest-level"]Full report in The Guardian (Open access)[/link]

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