Sao Paulo, Brazil (CNN) – Since the beginning of this year, a third of all the people who died in Brazil were victims of covid-19.
According to data from the National Civil Registry of Brazil, 615,329 deaths were reported in the country between January 1 and April 30. Of these, 208,370 were related to covid-19, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, 33.9% of the national total.
The coronavirus has skyrocketed in the South American giant in recent months, fueled in part by disregard for social distancing precautions and the emergence of highly contagious new variants, and has claimed more lives in the past four months than in all of 2020. More than 78,000 people in Brazil died from the virus last month alone.
Slow vaccination in Brazil
Meanwhile, despite the country’s robust vaccination program, the implementation of the covid-19 vaccines it has been slow, affected by supply shortages and delays in the early days of negotiating with global pharmaceutical companies. So far, less than 10% of the population has been vaccinated.
While the government of President Jair Bolsonaro has been reluctant to impose restrictions on movement or economic activity, lockdown measures imposed by state governors and city mayors in March and April have helped stem the recent resurgence of the pandemic. The daily death rate has fallen from its peak of more than 4,000 in April to around 2,100.
But as local authorities reopen the economy, under pressure from Bolsonaro, Brazilian scientists are warning of a further increase in cases and deaths this summer.
Since the pandemic began, Brazil has accumulated one of the highest absolute numbers of deaths from COVID-19 in the world, only below the United States, where last year COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death.
Relative to its population of approximately 211 million, the scale of deaths from covid-19 in Brazil is even more marked: the country has suffered 193 deaths from Ccovid-19 per 100,000 people since the pandemic began, more than the 176 deaths per 100,000 people in the United States, and 16 deaths per 100,000 people in India, where the virus is currently out of control.
What Bolsonaro has said
When Brazil surpassed 400,000 deaths from covid-19, on April 29, Bolsonaro briefly commented on the situation.
We are sorry for the deaths. (The pandemic) reached a large number of deaths here, right? ”He said in a weekly live broadcast on his social networks. The president has faced fierce national and international criticism for his reluctant response to the pandemic and is currently under investigation by the Senate.
Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Monday that he hopes to sign an agreement soon for 100 million doses of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines, and that most Brazilians should be immunized before the end of the year.
But for now, Brazil continues to lag behind other South American countries like Chile and Uruguay, which increasingly view their neighbor as an epidemiological threat.
CNN’s Rodrigo Pedroso reported from Sao Paulo and Caitlin Hu reported and wrote from New York. CNN’s Tatiana Arias contributed to this report.