Brazil asks for help on scarcity of supplies to intubate Covid patients

Sao Paulo, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- The Brazilian government on Monday asked for help from the medical industry to find solutions to the scarcity of supplies for intubating Covid-19 patients, some 300,000 of whom have died since the pandemic began, with about 12 million confirmed cases nationwide.

The huge increase in hospital admissions for seriously ill coronavirus patients is threatening to overwhelm Brazil’s health care system, which is on the verge of collapse due to the lack of beds, medical personnel and supplies for intubating patients, also called putting them on a ventilator to give them assistance in breathing.

Just in Sao Paulo, the state with the best and largest health care infrastructure, the number of Covid-19 admissions spiked by 110 percent in recent weeks, with concern rising in the sector – and among the public – over the bottled oxygen supply.

After meeting with the companies that provide oxygen, the regional government ruled out a shortage like the one that occurred in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, a few months ago, but private initiative has been mobilized to build a facility in Sao Paulo’s interior to package oxygen cylinders.

Given the worsening situation, the Jair Bolsonaro administration met on Monday with representatives of the medical industry to head off a shortage of supplies at hospitals as daily Covid infection rates and deaths are setting new records.

Authorities proposed seizing the inventory of pharmaceutical companies that has not yet been earmarked for signed supply contracts and turning to the international market via the Pan American Health Organization, according to a communique from the Health and Communications Ministries.

They also pointed to the possibility of holding national online auctions where Brazilian states could buy pharmaceutical supplies and increasing the flow of information to “harmonize” the available reserves.

However, the government emphasized that the purchase of so-called “intubation kits,” which include oxygen, sedatives, analgesics and neuromuscular blockers is the “responsibility” of the regional and municipal governments, whom Bolsonaro has criticized repeatedly over the restrictions they have imposed to combat the pandemic.

Despite the fact that Brazil is the world’s current pandemic epicenter, the ultrarightist president on Monday doubled down on his denialist stance and emphasized that the country is setting an “example” in the fight against a virus that is killing more than 2,000 Brazilians each day.

Brazil is the world’s No. 2 country in terms of Covid deaths, behind only the United States.

“Brazil is setting an example. We’re one of the few countries that is in the vanguard in the search for solutions,” said Bolsonaro, whose popularity has been falling as pressure over his management of the pandemic has been mounting.

On Sunday, hundreds of bankers and economists released a harsh letter in which they asked the government for effective measures to combat the pandemic and accelerate the vaccination of the public, and they implicitly criticized Bolsonaro’s denialism.

The letter, sent to the representatives of the three government branches, had more than 500 signatures, including former finance ministers, ex-presidents of the Central Bank and top banking leaders such as the co-presidents of the Itau Administrative Council, Roberto Setubal and Pedro Moreirs Salles, two of the country’s most influential figures.

THe signatories said that the pandemic “will not be overcome as long as it’s not controlled by competent actions from the federal government,” which they accused of “under-utilizing or making poor use of the resources they control, including ignoring or being negligent about the scientific evidence in designing actions to battle” the health crisis.

“The disdain for science, defending treatments without clear efficacy, encouraging gatherings and flirting with the anti-vaccine movement, have characterized the country’s top political leadership,” said the letter in a sharp rebuke of Bolsonaro at the worst moment of the pandemic so far.

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