Brazil sees big declines in Covid-19 cases, deaths

By Carlos Meneses Sanchez

Sao Paulo, Jul 22 (EFE).- Brazil is marking a significant reduction in new Covid-19 infections and deaths in the last month as the country’s vaccination campaign has gathered steam, but health authorities remain alert to prevent the more contagious Delta variant of the virus from taking hold.

The median number of new cases over the last seven days was roughly 40,000, a 50 percent fall from the final week of June.

At nearly 1,200 a day, fatalities were down 43 percent from the level of a month ago and if the trend continues, Brazil can look forward to seeing the daily death toll drop below 1,000 for the first time since January.

And for the first time since December 2020, intensive care units at hospitals in all 27 Brazilian states are at less than 90 percent capacity.

Despite the encouraging statistics, Brazil – with 545,604 deaths – is second only to the United States in lives lost to the coronavirus.

Public health experts credit the improvement to vaccination, which has accelerated after months of confusion due to a shortage of vaccines.

Almost 45 percent of the eligible population has gotten at least one dose of vaccine and 17 percent have been fully vaccinated.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most-populous state, 288 of 645 municipalities registered no additional coronavirus deaths in the last seven days.

Another factor in the declines is that as many as 25 million Brazilians have been infected with Covid-19.

“With growing vaccination added to the number of people who were already sick, which is not small, it starts to become difficult for the virus to circulate,” physician and infectologist Marcelo Cecilio Daher told Efe.

As of Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry, Brazil has had only 135 cases of infection with the Delta variant of coronavirus, first detected in India.

Yet the municipal governments in Brazil’s two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, say they suspect community spread of Delta in their respective jurisdictions.

The prevalence in Brazil of the P.1/Gamma variant, which emerged in the Amazonian city of Manaus, may make it more difficult for the Delta variety to take hold, Daher said.

“But everything indicates that Delta will gain strength and can become the dominant variant if we don’t advance very rapidly with vaccination,” he cautioned.

At the same time, Daher expressed confidence that Brazil would not return to the horrors of March and April, when new cases exceeded 100,000 a day on several occasions and daily fatalities more than once topped 4,000. EFE cms/dr

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