Brazil’s Collapsing Health System Puts Neighbors at Risk, Too

Ravaged by new surges, Brazil is now the pandemic’s epicenter as daily deaths top 3,000 and the health system is collapsing, NPR's Goats and Soda reports.

“Reports of patients dying waiting for hospital, shortages of medicines and oxygen, and bodies being dumped in hospital corridors” fill the media, G&S reports. 

  •  A death toll set to surpass 300,000 this week—second only to the US

  •  ICU’s 90% or more filled in more than half of the country's 26 states

The country is also a breeding ground for more variants, warns Pedro Hallal, coordinator of Brazil’s Epicovid-19 study. 

“The virus is circulating so widely in Brazil that it is possible, and I would say likely, that new variants will appear in the near future. We need to stop that urgently,” Hallal says, adding more vaccines are urgently needed.

Neighbors at Risk: PAHO warned yesterday that the country is already battling tough variants including the more transmissible P1 SARS-CoV-2, CIDRAP reports. More troubling developments: 

  • Cases are rising in Venezuela and Bolivia's border states.
  • Uruguay reports 1,000+ cases/day several times in recent weeks—“alarming, given the size of the country,” PAHO director Carissa Etienne says
  • Paraguay’s health system is buckling with the majority of ICU beds filled

Vaccines are on the way, but most of the region will have to wait several months, Etienne says. 12 PAHO countries have received 2.16 million doses of COVAX vaccine so far; Brazil got its first batch through the program this week.

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