Brazil’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 400,000

Brazil surpassed 400,000 coronavirus-related deaths, the second-highest total in the world after the United States.

More than half of those were recorded in 2021, while April has been the deadliest month since the start of the pandemic.

With 212 million people, the South American giant also has one of the highest mortality rates in the pandemic, at 189 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the worst in the Americas and 14th worldwide.

Brazil has been devastated by a surge in cases since the start of the year that pushed hospitals to the brink of collapse in many areas.

Experts blame several factors for the recent uptick, including the more contagious P1 variant, fatigue with restrictive measures such as lockdowns, and slow vaccine rollout.

“With 50 percent of the deaths from COVID happening this year, it shows that the crisis is totally out of control,” Jesem Orellana, an epidemiologist with the Fiocruz medical research institute in the Amazonian capital of Manaus said.

Manaus is where the P1 variant was first detected and where in January patients died in their beds asphyxiated due to inadequate oxygen supplies.

Brazil’s far-right populist President Jair Bolsonaro’s response to the crisis, which included downplaying the severity of the disease and casting doubt on masks and vaccines, has been condemned by health experts worldwide.

A Senate commission opened an inquiry this week into the government’s handling of the pandemic.