Brazil currently accounts for one-quarter of the world’s daily Covid-19 deaths, far more than any other single nation, and health experts are warning that the nation is on the verge of even greater calamity.
There is now growing recognition that shutdowns are no longer avoidable — not just among experts, but also many mayors and governors. Restrictions implemented last year were half-hearted and sabotaged by President Jair Bolsonaro, who sought to stave off economic doom.
The nation’s seven-day average of 2,400 deaths stands to reach 3,000 within weeks, six experts said. That’s nearly the worst level seen by the US, though Brazil has two-thirds of its population. Spikes of daily deaths could soon hit 4,000; on Friday there were 3,650 deaths reported.
It may be too late, with a more contagious variant rampaging across Brazil. For the first time, new daily cases topped 100,000 on March 25, with many more uncounted. Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University who advised several Brazilian governors and mayors on pandemic control, anticipates the total death toll reaching 500,000 by July and exceeding that of the US by year-end.
The system is already buckling, with almost all states’ ICUs near or at capacity. Jose Antonio Curiati, a supervisor at Sao Paul’s Hospital das Clinicas, the biggest hospital complex in Latin America, said its beds are full, but patients keep arriving. “Four thousand deaths a day seems to be right around the corner,” he said.