WSJ: Brazil Now Poses “Global Public Health Hazard”

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Home to less than 3% of the world’s population, Brazil currently accounts for almost a third of the daily global deaths from Covid-19, driven by the new variant. More than 300,000 have died, and daily deaths now top 3,000, a toll suffered only by the far more populous U.S.

The spread of the virus in Brazil threatens to turn this country of 213 million into a global public-health hazard.

The so-called P.1 strain, present in more than 20 countries and identified in New York last week, is up to 2.2 times more contagious and as much as 61% more able to reinfect people than previous versions of the coronavirus, according to a recent study.

The Associated Press reports:

For the first time, new daily cases topped 100,000 on March 25, with many more uncounted. Miguel Nicolelis, professor of Neurobiology at Duke University who advised several Brazilian governors and mayors on pandemic control, anticipates the total death toll reaching 500,000 by July and exceeding that of the U.S. by year-end.

“We have surpassed levels never imagined for a country with a public health care system, a history of efficient immunization campaigns and health workers who are second to none in the world,” Nicolelis said. “The next stage is the health system collapse.”

Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second most populous state, has closed nonessential shops. Espirito Santo state will enter lockdown Sunday. Brazil’s two biggest cities, Rio and Sao Paulo, have imposed extensive restrictions on nonessential activities.

CNN reports:

As his country has reeled during this latest outbreak, President Jair Bolsonaro has yet to take any significant steps to try and implement a coordinated national response.

He did deliver a televised address to the country on Tuesday night, saying 2021 would be the “year of the vaccine.” But critics derided the 3-minute speech as a half-hearted attempt at a public-relations rescue on a day where Brazil set its own record for most coronavirus deaths recorded in a single day.

Absent a coordinated federal response, any restrictions put in place designed to stem the spread of the virus have been left to individual states. The Bolsonaro administration filed suit in Brazil’s Supreme Court declaring that only the federal government has the right to impose such restrictions.