Despair and disparities: covid-19 consumes Brazil

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Has just gone through. Its deadliest week of the pandemic daily fatalities. Hit a record level of more than nine thousand nine hundred on thursday bringing the total number of deaths to more than two hundred sixty five thousand and cases to more than eleven million. The discovery of contagious new corona virus variant in the amazon region has fueled the brutal second wave but the government's response has been slow and patchy and has failed to contain the spread. The sense that you get living here is sad and almost fatalistic. It feels like this country has given up on dealing with this pandemic in a responsible life saving way. Many months ago ceremonies. Lynn is brazil correspondent. Even though we are all seeing that the cases are higher than they've ever been. The hospitals are full in nearly every part of the country. The restrictions that have been introduced feel completely out of tune with that reality. They've been late. they've been minimal. And some cities are slightly stricter than others. But i think the feeling that most brazilians have is that covert is just going to happen. Overtake this country like a tidal wave. And there's nothing that anyone can do about it and the concern right now. Is that the. The health system is buckling under the weight. Right so the difference between this second wave compared to the first wave is that for the first several months of the pandemic. The virus was sort of ping-pong between different brazilian states whereas now most of the country's twenty six states are seeing their hospitals at or near capacity. And there's really a limited ability to sort of transfer patients or doctors or supplies between the different states recently. The health secretary of the amazonian state of honea mentioned this desperation in a video aimed at those who weren't taking the current virus seriously is typical seymour's known them was laid to swap mine. Nothing lead today but also by a sweatshirt but he says we have no icu. Beds for your mother your father for your aunt. It doesn't matter if you're rich. Poor young old. We simply have no. Icu beds available and those rising in numbers. Those strains that are coming about. Is that down two new variants of the viruses. That the big problem here. That's definitely part of the story. They found this new variant in the amazonian city of manaus late last year. It's called p. One and recent studies show that. It's one point four to two point two times more contagious than other versions of the virus. And the really scary thing is that it looks like it is much more capable of reinfecting people who have already been infected. That might be why people in manaus were hit really badly by second wave. Even though some studies suggest that as many as three quarters of the population had been infected in the first wave the other thing that seems really scary is that it looks like this. Current wave is affecting young people and much higher numbers than before so this variant is clearly causing some of the trouble. But you also say that. There's a certain sense of fatalism. That's contributing here. I mean how much does that have to do with the leadership. We talked a lot before. About how president of brush off the pandemic bolsonaro hasn't changed a bit at a recent event. He told brazilians to stop whining about the krona virus. Sugar jimmy because the club and said how long are you going to keep crying about it. But it's not just him the first wave you saw politicians trying to take a different stance and even going to the supreme court to fight for their right to shut things down even though the president disagreed this time it's different. Brazil has been seeing cases creep up for months now and it's only in the past few weeks. That mayors and governors have really started implementing serious restrictions closing businesses fulltime rather than. Just say from eleven pm to five. Am which is what we had in sao paulo for a few weeks. And what do the brazilian people think about. The the patchy measures have been put into place. I think there's a real split. You definitely see the outrage that brazilians especially the more educated and richard brazilian have had from the beginning. But there's also a real feeling among the middle class and the working class that putting in more restrictions is going to do more harm than good because the economic situation is so bad. Unemployment has barely come down from its high of around fourteen percent and the emergency cash payments. The federal government paid people for nine months last year. Have now been cut off to. Millions of people were basically plunged into poverty when the clock struck midnight on december. Thirty first congress is trying to push past a smaller version of the cash payments. But it's going to take some time but certainly one path out of all of these kinds of trade offs is vaccination. How is the country's program of of inoculation going. It's had a frustratingly slow start. Brazil has administered vaccines to only about three percent of its population that's way behind neighboring countries. Like she lay here in brazil. Most of the problem is that boston otto is anti vaccines and many months ago. When he had from different vaccine companies including some that were doing trials here in brazil he kicked the can down the road and signed with astra zeneca but that one provider hasn't been enough now here in sao paulo. The governor signed a deal with the sign of that company to produce its corona vac vaccine in the federal government. Sort of found itself forced to make a deal as well but they've also been all sorts of supply bottlenecks and problems with distribution and real kind of ineffectiveness by on the part of the national health ministry. Which is overseeing this whole effort. It sounds like a fairly bleak picture all around but it's not just a problem for brazil if these new variants in particular are allowed to run rampant. That's true and it's really scary. The longer the disease is left to fester. In in countries like brazil greater chance that new variants will start to emerge that reduced the effectiveness of covid nineteen vaccines elsewhere in the world posing a threat to nations that have already immunized their populations in a lot of these countries. That are still really struggling with the virus. You see their leaders just begging for the rest of the world to send them vaccine so that they can vaccinate people as quick as possible so far. We haven't seen that from bolsonaro he's been really against vaccines but just in the past few weeks. It looks like maybe he's starting to change his tune. He signed a deal with pfizer and he suggested in a recent interview that he himself might get vaccinated. So i guess the hope is relieved. The bolsonaro will understand that vaccinating people is essential to the economic recovery. That he's been prioritizing from the start and that that combined with attention from the rest of the world in getting vaccines to brazil will start to allow brazil to get a handle on something that feels right now like. It's totally out of control very much for your time sarah. Thank you jason

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