New COVID Mutation Spreading Rapidly Through Brazil, but is a Strict Lockdown Really the Solution?
Brazil is once again in the news this week. The reason, as it was last time as well, is the problematic situation that is caused there due to the coronavirus. It is not difficult to note that the media are once again blaming President Jair Bolsonaro for the tragedy the country is facing.
The numbers demonstrate the harsh circumstances. Worldwide, Brazil has the second most coronavirus cases, behind only the United States. Officially 353.000 Brazilians have died with or because of the virus, putting Brazil second in this category as well. It is also notable to mention that over the last weeks, a new wave hit the country, breaking the mark of 4000 deaths per day twice, once on 6th April and once on 8th April. A new mutation of the virus, called P.1, is what caused that new wave. According to the WHO, that version of the virus is more transmissible than the normal one and whether or not the vaccines neutralize the activity of the infection is something that is still under investigation. The one fact we really know is that the health system is one step away of collapsing as the hospital’s capacities are between 80% and 90 % overfilled.
The president is, as one can see, really responsible for the current situation. A responsibility that lies on him because as the head of state he together with his government are the ones who must take care of the country’s safety. Besides that, President Bolsonaro declared several times that the virus is not dangerous enough to force a lockdown as a countermeasure. His priority was to act in the best interest of the economy. As a consequence, he easily turned into a scapegoat for the media. Certainly, that created a conflict in the Brazilian society. The heads of the army, the aircraft and the navy for example resigned as a sign of protest from their office. Jair Bolsonaro also announced Marcelo Queiroga as the new Minister of Health, making him the 4th minister during the pandemic. That alone indicates the ineffective handling of the pandemic.
Someone would now think that a lockdown is the only solution, but that does not mean that the lockdown would not harm the country maybe even worse than the direct confrontation with the negative consequences of the virus itself. According to IndexMundi, 4,2% of the population live under the official international poverty line and 26% are living under the national poverty line. That means that at least ca. 9.000.000 people (or considering the national poverty line, 54.860.000 people) could not afford a lockdown. Similar lockdown measures have lasted in Europe for several months and are still active, as it has not been effective enough to solve the problem of the pandemic. A lockdown would probably lead to a conflict of class in Brazil as well and might endanger the life of more people than the virus has done until today. It is also notable to mention that it will take too much time before the population can get vaccinated in sufficient numbers. Although the President does bear much responsibility for the current health crisis, the situation is much more complex than what appears on the surface. Brazil is facing one of the biggest crises of its modern history and we are all going to witness what is going to happen there over the next weeks and months.