Brazil crosses 500,000 Covid-19 deaths

Third pandemic wave hits as Brazil surpasses half a million Covid deaths

Third pandemic wave hits as Brazil surpasses half a million Covid deaths

A special Senate committee is probing the Bolsonaro administration's pandemic response, highlighting the government's delayed efforts to acquire vaccines while prioritising unproven treatments.

The Health Ministry reported 500,800 deaths, including 2,301 in the last 24 hours, a toll that many epidemiologists say is an undercount.

Brazil has nearly 18 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and an average of 2,000 deaths every day.

"Half a million reasons to oust Bolsonaro", read one protestor's sign in downtown Sao Paulo. Government of hunger and unemployment.

The latest data suggests that just 11% of Brazilians are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, with 29% of the population having received the first dose of a vaccine.

According to local media, protests have been held in at least 44 cities.

Pfizer said it had offered its vaccines to Brazilian officials between August and November a year ago, but it is claimed that the government passed up opportunities to buy them.

In Sao Paulo, protesters dropped red balloons as a tribute to the victims of the virus Bolsonaro's supporters have taken more often to the streets over the past month, in large part because many agree with his dismissal of restrictions meant to stifle the coronavirus and anger that lockdown measures have hurt businesses. Said Isabela Gouljor, a 20-year-old student who participated in the protest.

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Former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said, "In a country that is a world leader in vaccination, 500,000 people have died from the diseases now being vaccinated. We have widely recognized institutions, but today we are in a sad situation".

Gonzalo Vecina, former head of Brazilian health regulator Anvisa, said: "I think we are going to reach 700,000 or 800,000 deaths before we get to see the effects of vaccination".

"We are experiencing the arrival of these new variants and the Indian variant will send us for a loop", he said, predicting a near-term acceleration in fatalities.

Guimaraes warned that Brazil could revisit scenes from the worst of its March-April peak, when the country averaged 3,000 deaths per day.

"If we acted in different collaborative ways and provided people with specific information about public health measures ... this wouldn't have happened", she said.

This week, new confirmed cases in Brazil accelerated to more than 70,000 per day on average, edging past India for the most in the world.

According to some analysts, the damage to Bolsonaro's reputation caused by the investigation may reopen the way for the return to politics of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, the leader of Brazil's main left-wing party (PT), and longtime leader of the party.

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