Brazil’s Handling of COVID-19 Is a Global Emergency

“O Brasil ainda está na vanguarda do atraso”, afirma Ilona Szabó

Published in America’s Quarterly

Ilona Szabo

Brazil’s catastrophic mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic is going from bad to worse. Under President Jair Bolsonaro’s watch, the country has registered roughly 260,000 COVID-19-related deaths and more than 10.7 million infections. Today it is one of just a few large countries where cases and deaths are still rising – and to new records. Intensive care units are nearing capacity in 19 of Brazil’s 26 states. Just 3.8% of the population has been vaccinated. An average of 1,220 people per day are believed to have died from COVID-19 over the past week, the highest level since the pandemic began, and up 16% compared to just two weeks ago.

Much of the blame for this nightmarish scenario lies at the feet of Bolsonaro and his circle of advisers. Rather than step up to address the issue, they have repeatedly played down the threat, ignored the advice of health experts and peddled conspiracy theories. In just the past two weeks, Bolsonaro has publicly warned about dangerous “side effects” from wearing masks (citing a German university study that did not actually exist), lashed out at governors and mayors trying to pass new restrictions to deal with the recent spike in cases, and continued to tout unproven drugs as cures. Through it all, the president has remained defiant: “I haven’t made any mistakes since March of last year,” he said on Monday.

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