Health systems in most of Brazil's largest cities are close to collapse because of Covid cases, its leading health institute warns. Experts warn that the highly contagious variant in Brazil may have knock-on effects in the region and beyond. The country has recorded more thandeaths and It has the second-highest of deaths in the world after the US and the third-highest of confirmed cases.
Despite this, President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently sought to downplay the threat posed by the virus. Earlier this week he told people to "stop whining". He has also opposed quarantine measures taken at a regional level, arguing that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the virus itself.
On Wednesday, the country recorded 2, Covid deaths, a new daily record. In its report, the institute warned that figures point to the "overload and even collapse of health systems".
Covid brazil experts issue warning as hospitals 'close to collapse'
Dr Hallal, who works in Rio Grande do Sul, said people felt "abandoned by the federal government". In his first speech since corruption convictions against him were annulledhe said on Wednesday: "Many of these deaths could have been avoided. On Wednesday, the country recorded 79, new cases. A surge in cases in recent days has been attributed to the spread of a highly contagious variant of the virus - named P1 - which is thought to have originated in the Amazon city of Manaus.
Preliminary data suggests the P1 variant could be up to twice as transmittable as the original version of the virus.
It also suggests that the new variant could evade immunity built up by having had the original version of Covid. Last week, the Fiocruz Institute said P1 was just one of several "variants of concern" that have become dominant in six of eight states studied by the Rio-based organisation. World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the situation in Brazil as "very concerning" and warned of a possible regional spillover. Scientists are concerned that Brazil has almost become a "natural laboratory" - where people can see what happens when coronavirus goes relatively unchecked.
Some warn the country is now a breeding ground for new variants of the virus, unhindered by effective social distancing and fuelled by vaccine shortages. That's because the longer a virus circulates in a country, the more chances it has to mutate - in this case giving rise to P1. Global experts are calling for a plan - including rapid vaccination, lockdowns, and strict social distancing measures - to get the situation under control.
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The worry is that the P1 variant is a looming threat over the progress made in the region and the wider world. Current vaccines are, on the whole, still effective against the variant but may be less so than against the earlier versions of the virus they were deed to fight. Studies are ongoing but experts will get their most robust understanding of how well these vaccines work against P1 as they continue to monitor people who have been vaccinated in the real world. Scientists are confident that, if necessary, vaccines can be tweaked fairly quickly to work against new variants.
Preliminary studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine suggest it would protect against the P1 variant, although the team behind the vaccine earlier said it offers less protection - but should still protect against severe illness. Another Brazilian study has reportedly indicated the CoronaVac vaccinemade by China's Sinovac biopharmaceutical company, is effective against the same variant.
However, the Pfizer vaccine has not yet been rolled out in the country, as Brazilian authorities are still in negotiations with the company over its purchase. Can you vaccinate a whole town? India hunts for new strains as Covid wave looms.
What do we know about the brazil variant?
Hospitals in Brazilian cities 'close to collapse'. What is the Brazil variant? Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to 'stop whining' as deaths spike. What's the situation in Brazil?
What do we know about the Brazil variant? Which vaccines work against the variant? What we know about the vaccines and the variants.
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Related Topics. Brazil Coronavirus lockdown measures Coronavirus pandemic Jair Bolsonaro.
More on this story. Published 19 February. Published 5 March. Published 10 March.