Brazil’s Covid outbreak is a global threat incubating lethal variants

Update 11 March – on the first anniversary of the pandemic, Brazil has exceeded 2,000 Covid-related deaths (2286) in a single day for the first time, as infection rates soar. The country has the second highest death toll in the world, behind the US. Experts warn the transmission rate is made worse by more contagious variants. click full source

Graph shows daily confirmed deaths in Brazil since January
peak of second wave yet to be reached

With new cases of coronavirus falling by nearly 100% worldwide since the peak of the second wave on January 10th, Brazil’s rampant coronavirus outbreak has become a global threat that risks spawning new and even more lethal variants, as it suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic. Miguel Nicolelis, a Duke University neuroscientist who is tracking the crisis, urged the international community to challenge the Brazilian government over its failure to contain an epidemic that has killed more than a quarter of a million Brazilians – about 10% of the global total.

Brazil is experiencing the worst moment of the coronavirus pandemic, with an explosion of cases.
Brazil is experiencing the worst moment of the coronavirus pandemic, with an explosion of cases. Photograph: Raphael Alves/EPA

“The world must vehemently speak out over the risks Brazil is posing to the fight against the pandemic,” said Nicolelis, who has spent most of the last year confined to his flat on the west side of São Paulo. “What’s the point in sorting the pandemic out in Europe or the United States, if Brazil continues to be a breeding ground for this virus?” “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.”

Already, one particularly worrying variant (P1) has been traced to Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, which suffered a devastating healthcare breakdown in January after a surge in infections. These are the six cases of that variant have so far been detected in the UK. “Brazil is an open-air laboratory for the virus to proliferate and eventually create more lethal mutations,” warned Nicolelis. “This is about the world. It’s global.”

The alert came as Brazil entered the most deadly chapter of its year-long Covid crisis, with hospitals around the country collapsing or on the verge of collapse and the average weekly death toll hitting new heights. A record 1,726 deaths were reported on Tuesday, the highest number since the pandemic began. “It’s a battlefield,” a doctor in the southern city of Porto Alegre told local television after his hospital’s intensive care unit and mortuary ran out of space.

Nicolelis said Bolsonaro’s failure to halt the outbreak and launch an adequate vaccination campaign had created a domestic tragedy from which Latin America’s most populous nation was unlikely to emerge until late 2022. “We’ve now gone past 250,000 deaths, and my expectation is that if nothing is done we could have lost 500,000 people here in Brazil by next March. It’s a horrifying and tragic prospect, but at this point it’s perfectly possible,” he said, predicting a traumatic month as public and private hospitals buckled. “My forecast is that if the world was appalled by what happened in Bergamo in Italy and what happened in Manaus a few weeks ago, it’s going to be even more shocked by the rest of Brazil if nothing is done.” click full article.

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