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Brazil passes 10 million COVID-19 cases in a new strain, vaccination impasse

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Rio de Janeiro (Reuters)-Brazil confirmed coronavirus on Thursday as new variants found in the Amazon could further destroy countries that have been suspended in many cities due to lack of vaccines The number of cases has exceeded 10 million.

File Photo: Healthcare workers in the Indigenous Special Sanitary Area of ​​Manaus receive a Sinovac Coronabac Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine from a village ethnic group on the banks of the Wolve River in Itakoatiara in the village of San Jose in the indigenous land of Rio Wolve. prepare. Amazonas, Brazil, February 13, 2021. Photo taken on February 13, 2021. REUTERS / Bruno Kelly / File Photo

Epidemiologists have warned that recent carnival holidays could lead to further increases in infectious diseases shortly after the surge in Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Some thought the worst was over as the infection rate declined from September to October, but this year the country broke weekly records for new cases and deaths.

As of Thursday, the Ministry of Health has aggregated a total of 10,030,626 infections, including 51,879 cases over the last 24 hours.

The pandemic killed 243,457 people in Brazil. This is the worst death toll outside the United States. Ministry data show 1,367 additional deaths since the last update on Wednesday.

Alexandre Naime Barbosa, Dean of the Department of Epidemiology at the State University of São Paulo, said:

President Jair Bolsonaro consistently downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic, urging Brazilians to return to work and not being vaccinated.

Experts are worried that things could get worse with the new Brazilian stocks in the jungle city of Manaus.

The new strain, considered more contagious, has already been reported in six Brazilian states, including Rio de Janeiro, and its spread could put more pressure on eerie medical services.

In Manaus, a wave of infections is overloading hospitals. At some point in January, the intensive care unit was very full and dozens of patients had been airlifted to other states, health officials said. Doctors reported that they shared oxygen between patients alternately every 10 minutes.

“We believe it (a variant) is one of the causes of the incident’s explosion,” said Felipenabeka, a virologist at the Fiocrus Amazonia Institute.

The surge in cases is of particular concern due to the sluggish vaccination program in Brazil.

Several major cities, including Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, stopped vaccination after dose shortages.

Despite pledged to immunize the entire population of approximately 210 million by the end of the year, the Ministry of Health has provided the state with only 11.8 million doses so far.

This far falls short of the 104.2 million doses required to vaccinate only the highest-risk groups in Brazil, using vaccines that require two doses per person.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuero promised to make an additional 11.3 million doses available by the end of the month, including 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that have not yet been confirmed to be delivered by India, where they are produced. Did.

“It’s hard to see this tragic situation improve by the end of the year,” Naime said.

Reported by Pedro Fonseca; Written by Stephen Eisenhammer; Edited by Sonya Hepinstall

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