Brazil suffers 1,194 Covid deaths, largest one-day toll in 4 months

Rio de Janeiro, Dec 30 (efe-epa).- Over the past 24 hours, Brazil has registered 1,194 deaths from Covid-19, the highest one-day death toll from the coronavirus since Sept. 1, when 1,215 people died.

The total number of Covid-19 deaths in the South American giant is now approaching 194,000, according to figures released Wednesday by the Health Ministry.

This is the third time this month that Brazil has registered more than 1,000 daily deaths from the virus, after 1,111 deaths were reported on Tuesday and 1,029 were reported on Dec. 17, a sign that the disease is resurging in one of the countries hardest hit by the worldwide pandemic.

According to the bulletin released on Wednesday by the ministry, in the past 24 hours health authorities registered 55,469 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, although this tally is below the number registered on Tuesday (58,718). Nevertheless, it is still one of the largest daily caseload increases since Dec. 24, when 60,080 new cases were added to the rolls.

According to official figures, since the first Covid-19 case was detected in Brazil on Feb. 26, and the first death on March 12, the country has suffered 193,875 deaths and 7,619,200 cases.

The figures confirm that Brazil, with its 210 million residents, is one of the global epicenters of the pandemic, specifically the country with the second highest number of deaths following the United States and the one with the third highest caseload, after the US and India.

After registering an average of about 400 deaths per day between last Friday and Monday, the number of deaths jumped to more than 1,000 per day starting on Tuesday, a situation attributed to the updating of figures from the four days of the Christmas holiday.

The reduction in deaths over the previous days was caused by the lower number of officials processing the data over the prolonged holiday season, which began last Thursday on Christmas Eve.

The averages, however, show that the fatality and infection counts have grown significantly in recent days and that Brazil could be experiencing a second wave of the pandemic without ever having emerged from the first wave, something that is being denied by the government.

According to the Health Ministry, the daily average of deaths in the past 14 days on Wednesday stood at 724, an increase of 10.03 percent with respect to the average figure of 658 registered two weeks ago on Dec. 16.

The average infection figure over the past 14 days, on the other hand, has dropped by 4.2 percent over the past two weeks, from 43,140 daily cases on Dec. 15 to 41,330 on Wednesday.

According to ministry data, about 6.7 million people have contracted Covid-19 but recovered and have been released from the hospital, if they were hospitalized to begin with, and another 717,544 are under medical observation. The lethality index for Covid-19 in Brazil dropped on Wednesday to 2.5 percent of the total number of those infected.

The incidence of the disease on Wednesday stood at 3,626 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and the mortality index at 92 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Amid the growth in infections and deaths, different laboratories announced on Wednesday progress in their efforts to produce vaccines against Covid in Brazil.

Uniao Quimica, which has a license to produce Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil, said that it will have the capability to provide 8 million doses of the vaccine per month starting in January.

This lab on Tuesday requested authorization to conduct mass testing of the vaccine on patients in Brazil, a vaccine to which Russian authorities assign a 91 percent effectiveness and which already is being used in vaccination campaigns in Argentina, Russia and Belarus.

Meanwhile, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Latin America’s biggest medical research center which had a license to produce the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University in Brazil, also said that it is ready to begin local production and to provide 15 million doses each month.

“We have the capacity to produce 15 million doses per month and in January we’ll begin receiving the supplies, but, given the need to get the plants outfitted, we will be able to make an initial delivery of one million doses during the first week of February. In the third week of February, we’ll already be able to offer 3.5 million doses,” said Fiocruz president Nisia Trindade.

The government of the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous with 46 million residents as well as the region of the country hardest hit by the pandemic, received another 1.6 million doses of Coronavac on Wednesday and now has on hand 11 million doses of this vaccine, developed by China’s SinoVac lab.

The state government, which has signed an agreement to produce Coronavac in Brazil, is scheduled to launch a vaccination campaign on Jan. 25 to distribute the 18 million doses it expects to have warehoused at that time.

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