COVID-19 deaths in Latin America exceed 1 million as outbreak worsens
COVID-19 death toll in Latin America and the Caribbean topped 1 million people on Friday, Reuters tally shows, with pandemic worsening in part of world with highest per capita death rate .
From the dusty highlands of Bolivia to the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo, the pandemic has overwhelmed underfunded health systems after spreading rapidly through countries where many people are surviving hand-to-hand combat and were unable to enter the lock.
In Peru, among the region’s hardest-hit countries, COVID-19 patients have died in crowded hospital corridors in the capital Lima. Deep in Brazil’s Amazon jungle, many residents of the city of Manaus have died in their homes without oxygen to fill damaged lungs, after supplies ran out this year.
With cases declining in Europe, Asia and North America, and stable in Africa, South America is the only region where new infections are rising rapidly on a per capita basis, according to Our World in Data. Although India is currently struggling with one of the worst pandemic outbreaks in the world. Read more
On average, in May, 31% of deaths from COVID-19 worldwide were in Latin America and the Caribbean – where just 8.4% of the world’s population live.
Doctors and epidemiologists say the coronavirus pandemic surprised unprepared governments last year and its impact was compounded by leaders who downplayed its severity and failed to secure vaccine supplies on time. timely.
The eight countries with the most COVID-19 deaths per capita over the past week were all in Latin America.
“Instead of preparing for the pandemic, we played down the disease, saying the tropical heat would deactivate the virus,” said Dr. Francisco Moreno Sanchez, COVID-19 program manager at one of Mexico’s main hospitals and criticism of government vaccination. plan.
“Unfortunately, we are among the worst affected regions, where the management of the pandemic has been the most flawed, and now we are suffering the consequences,” the epidemiologist told Reuters.
BRAZIL HARD HIT
With the death toll rising steadily, gravediggers in several countries have been forced to enlarge cemeteries with row after row of new graves. A break from the traditional, predominantly Catholic culture of the region, the dead are often buried with little or no relatives there to say goodbye.
Most of the deaths – more than 446,000 – have been in Brazil, which has become a coronavirus epicenter this year with the second deadliest outbreak outside the United States, though it looks likely to be soon overtaken by the ‘India.
Brazil recorded 2,215 new deaths from COVID-19 in 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, bringing Latin America’s total to more than one million deaths from COVID-19.
The government of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, vaccine skeptical and against lockdowns, is under investigation by a parliamentary committee for failing to plan a nationwide campaign against COVID-19 and not buying vaccines on time. Read more
Brazil remains the third most affected country in the world in terms of confirmed cases of COVID-19, behind only India and the United States. It has the highest death toll in the region, followed by Mexico and Colombia, which together account for about 74% of all deaths in Latin America.
The daily death toll in South America had slowed in May to 3,872, from an average of 4,558 people in April, according to a Reuters analysis. But cases are on the rise again, and deaths are a lagging indicator, usually on the rise weeks after a surge in new infections.
Vaccinations in South America are lagging behind much of the world. In South America, only 15% of people received at least one dose compared to 28% in Europe and 34% in North America. Only Asia and Africa are below 5% and 1%, respectively, according to Our World in Data through May 19.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) criticized the “glaring gaps” in access to COVID-19 vaccines in Latin America, compared to the United States, which has carved out the lion’s share of the 400 million doses administered to date in the Americas.
“Only three percent of Latin Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. We urgently need more vaccines,” PAHO director Carissa Etienne said this week.
Vaccine stocks have been slow to arrive in most countries and immunization programs have been disrupted in some.
“The vaccination lacked strategic planning,” said pediatric surgeon Kurt Paulsen, who runs a vaccination site in Bolivia. “At first they brought a lot of different vaccines without any information to show people what is being injected to them.
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