Brazil stares into the abyss as Covid-19 surge pushes hospitals to brink of collapse

WION Web Team
Brasilia, Brazil Published: Mar 21, 2021, 02:58 PM(IST)

Brazil Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

It is being reported that the Covid intensive care units in virtually all of Brazil’s 26 states and the federal district containing the capital, Brasília, are now either at, or perilously close to capacity.

Brazil’s healthcare system is in its most severe crisis -- doctors are overwhelmed and patients are dying while they wait for intensive care beds in the wake of rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The South American country is struggling to contain a surge of Covid-19 that has pushed hospitals in many areas to the brink of collapse.

All this while the country's Covid-sceptic president, Jair Bolsonaro, continues to spurn calls for a lockdown that would save lives.

It is being reported that the Covid intensive care units in virtually all of Brazil’s 26 states and the federal district containing the capital, Brasília, are now either at, or perilously close to capacity.

Brazil has registered nearly 12 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 292,752, second only to the US. It recorded 79,069 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 2,438 deaths from COVID-19, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

Hard-hit Brazil has been struggling to secure enough vaccines for its 212 million people. It has so far issued at least one dose of vaccine to around 5.4 percent of the population -- far off pace to reach the health ministry's target of vaccinating all adults by the end of the year.

To this end, authorities said Saturday they were in talks with the United States to import Covid-19 vaccines that Washington is not currently using and has already vowed to share with Mexico and Canada.

The statement from the Brazilian foreign ministry came two days after the White House announced plans to send the US neighbors millions of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is still awaiting regulatory approval in the United States.

The US, which has stockpiled a total of seven million doses of the two-dose vaccine, will send 2.5 million to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. Brazil appeared to be referring to the same stockpile.

"Since March 13, the Brazilian government... has been negotiating with the US government to make it possible for Brazil to import vaccines from the surplus available in the United States," the foreign ministry said in a Tweet. 

Brazil is currently using both the AstraZeneca vaccine -- recently given fresh stamps of approval from European regulators and the World Health Organization, following concerns over possible side effects -- and Chinese-developed CoronaVac.

(with inputs from agencies)

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