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Brazil passes 500,000 coronavirus deaths

2021-06-20 HKT 05:32
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  • Brazil passes 500,000 coronavirus deaths
Brazil's death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 500,000 on Saturday as experts warn that the world's second-deadliest outbreak may worsen due to delayed vaccinations and the government's refusal to back social distancing measures.

Only 11 percent of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated and epidemiologists warn that, with winter arriving in the southern hemisphere and new variants of the coronavirus circulating, deaths will continue to mount even if immunizations gain steam.

Brazil has registered 500,800 deaths from 17,883,750 confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to Health Ministry data on Saturday, the worst official death toll outside the United States. Over the past week, Brazil has averaged 2,000 deaths per day.

Experts see the toll in Brazil, already the highest in Latin America, climbing far higher.

"I think we are going to reach 700,000 or 800,000 deaths before we get to see the effects of vaccination," said Gonzalo Vecina, former head of Brazilian health regulator Anvisa, predicting a near-term acceleration in fatalities.

"We are experiencing the arrival of these new variants and the Indian variant will send us for a loop."

Vecina criticized far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic, including the lack of a coordinated national response and his skepticism toward vaccines, lockdowns and mask-wearing requirements, which he has sought to loosen.

Thousands of Brazilians protested against Bolsonaro's management of the pandemic in nationwide demonstrations on Saturday, blaming the administration for the high death toll and calling for the president's ouster. (Reuters)