Brazil set to pass half a million COVID-19 deaths
Brazil's death toll from COVID-19 is expected to pass 500,000 on Saturday as experts warn that the world's second-deadliest outbreak may worsen due to delayed vaccinations and the government's refusal to back social distancing measures.
Only 11% of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated and epidemiologists warn that, with winter arriving in the southern hemisphere and new variants of the coronavirus circulating, deaths will continue to mount even if immunizations gain steam.
Brazil has registered 498,499 deaths from 17,801,462 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to Health Ministry data on Friday, the worst official death toll outside the United States. Over the past week, Brazil has averaged 2,000 deaths per day.
COVID-19 continues to devastate countries around the region with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reporting 1.1 million new cases of COVID-19 and 31,000 deaths in the Americas last week. PAHO noted upticks in six Mexican states, Belize, Guatemala, Panama and some places in the Caribbean.
his week, new confirmed cases in Brazil accelerated to more than 70,000 per day on average, edging past India for the most in the world.
Vaccination will be crucial in beating the virus in Brazil, since the country has failed to reach a consensus on social distancing and masks, said Ester Sabino, an epidemiologist at the University of Sao Paulo.
"We really need to increase vaccination very quickly," she said.