RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil became the second country in the world to pass 600,000 Covid-19 deaths on Friday, a dark milestone for a government that has been sharply criticised for mismanaging the outbreak. President Jair Bolsonaro has drawn the ire of health experts for his failure to implement measures to contain the pandemic. He has railed against lockdowns, aired scepticism about vaccines and refuses to wear a mask.
But despite Friday’s tragic mark, there are now signs that infections in Brazil are finally ebbing, as the country ramps up vaccinations after a slow start. More than 70% of Brazilians have got a first dose, compared to 65% in the US, which passed 600,000 deaths in June. “The rejection rate of vaccines is really low,” said Alexandre Naime Barbosa, an epidemiology expert in Sao Paulo. “That’s really important for Brazil to contain the pandemic.”
Brazil also appears to have been spared the worst of the Delta variant so far. Deaths are down 80% from their peak of over 3,000 per day in April, and Brazil no longer has one of the world’s highest daily tolls. The health ministry registered 615 new Covid-19 deaths on Friday, taking the total to 600,425 since the pandemic began.