Study: Brazil may already have more than 1.2 million coronavirus cases

Sao Paulo, Apr 30 (efe-epa).- The real number of coronavirus cases in Brazil may already exceed 1.2 million, roughly 16 times the amount of officially reported cases, according to a study released Thursday.

The study by the Covid-19 Brasil portal, which brings together scientists and students from several Brazilian universities, indicates that the true number of cases (people who have been infected with the virus at some time even if they are or were asymptomatic) was between 957,087 and 1.49 million on April 28, with 1.2 million being the most likely figure.

On that same day, Brazilian health authorities reported a total of 73,553 cases, or 16 times fewer than the number estimated by the study.

The latest official figures provided by Brazil’s Health Ministry on Wednesday indicate a total of 78,162 confirmed coronavirus cases and 5,466 Covid-19 related deaths, including 449 new fatalities on April 29.

“The official bulletins generally are considering the cases that required hospitalization,” while “the cases that are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms are not subject to tests and are not reported,” Domingo Alves, a member of Covid-19 Brasil and head of the University of Sao Paulo Medical School’s Health Intelligence Laboratory.

Arriving at the true number of total cases is important because it shows how widespread the virus is and how readily it can be spread from person to person.

It also is the only way to determine the real mortality rate.

Based on the official numbers, that figure is nearly 7 percent. But if the country actually has 1.2 million cases rather than around 80,000, the mortality rate in Brazil is roughly 0.5 percent, which is much lower than other coronaviruses like SARS (9.6 percent) or MERS (34.4 percent) yet still several times higher than seasonal flu (around 0.1 percent).

In projecting the number of coronavirus cases, the scientists used as a basis for their study the official number of deaths in the country, which also is likely less than the true number yet much closer to reality.

The researchers then applied the mortality of rate of South Korea, “one of the few countries that has conducted mass testing,” and adjusted the numbers according to Brazil’s age pyramid.

Based on the figure of 1.2 million, Brazil’s total caseload would exceed that of the US, which according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland has around 1.07 million confirmed cases.

Once again, however, the real number of cases in the US is almost surely much higher, with the governor of hard-hit New York state, Andrew Cuomo, saying last week that based on a recent state-wide antibody study 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected at some time with the novel coronavirus.

Separately Thursday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro once again flouted health authorities’ recommendations and participated in a military ceremony in the southern city of Porto Alegre along with a large group of his supporters.

Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the severity of Covid-19, calling it a “little flu,” can be seen in video footage circulating on social media taking part in the event without a surgical mask or any other type of protection and at one point even shaking hands with a supporter.

The rightist president also participated in an anti-lockdown protest in Brasilia on April 20 that called on governors in states such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to end their stay-at-home orders. EFE-EPA


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