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Brazil is in the grip of a 'humanitarian catastrophe' because of Bolsonaro's 'failed' response


Brazil‘s ‘failed’ response to Covid-19 has driven the country to a ‘humanitarian catastrophe,’ Doctors Without Borders said on Thursday, accusing President Jair Bolsonaro’s government of making the health crisis even worse.

‘The lack of political will to adequately respond to the pandemic is killing Brazilians in their thousands,’ the humanitarian group said in a statement.

The statement underlined the deadly surge of Covid-19 that has made Brazil the current epicentre of the pandemic.

Brazil's 'failed' response to Covid-19 has driven the country to a 'humanitarian catastrophe,' Doctors Without Borders said on Thursday (pictured, cemetery workers inter the coffin of a Covid-19 victim)

Brazil’s ‘failed’ response to Covid-19 has driven the country to a ‘humanitarian catastrophe,’ Doctors Without Borders said on Thursday (pictured, cemetery workers inter the coffin of a Covid-19 victim)

The humanitarian organisation has blamed President Bolsonaro for failing to respond adequately to the virus, which he has described as a 'little flu'

 The humanitarian organisation has blamed President Bolsonaro for failing to respond adequately to the virus, which he has described as a ‘little flu’

In all, the disease has claimed more than 385,000 lives in Brazil, second only to the United States

In all, the disease has claimed more than 385,000 lives in Brazil, second only to the United States

Last week, the country of 212 million people accounted for 11 per cent of infections and 26.2 percent of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide, Doctors Without Borders said

Last week, the country of 212 million people accounted for 11 per cent of infections and 26.2 percent of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide, Doctors Without Borders said

Last week, the country of 212 million people accounted for 11 per cent of infections and 26.2 percent of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide, the group said.

In all, the disease has claimed more than 385,000 lives in Brazil, second only to the United States.

‘These staggering figures are clear evidence of the authorities’ failure to manage the health and humanitarian crises in the country and protect Brazilians, especially the most vulnerable,’ it said.

Bolsonaro has long downplayed the pandemic and defied expert advice on measures to contain it, leaving state and local authorities to implement a messy patchwork of response measures.

Last week, the country of 212 million people accounted for 11 per cent of infections and 26.2 percent of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide, the group said

Last week, the country of 212 million people accounted for 11 per cent of infections and 26.2 percent of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide, the group said 

Bolsonaro has long downplayed the pandemic and defied expert advice on measures to contain it, leaving state and local authorities to implement a messy patchwork of response measures

Bolsonaro has long downplayed the pandemic and defied expert advice on measures to contain it, leaving state and local authorities to implement a messy patchwork of response measures

Experts say the recent explosion in Covid cases is fuelled by a local variant of the virus that is believed to be more contagious

Bolsonaro has long downplayed the pandemic and defied expert advice on measures to contain it, leaving state and local authorities to implement a messy patchwork of response measures

Doctors Without Borders said the lack of an ‘effective, centralised and coordinated’ response was exacerbating the crisis.

‘Public health measures have become a political battlefield in Brazil,’ said Christos Christou, president of the group, which is sometimes referred to with its French acronym MSF.

‘As a result, science-based policies are associated with political opinions, rather than the need to protect individuals and their communities.’

The statement came two days after the Brazilian Senate launched an investigative committee into Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.

Doctors Without Borders condemned the lack of masks and social distancing in Brazil, which have been ‘shunned and politicised’ even as Bolsonaro and his allies tout medications such as anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, despite studies documenting their ineffectiveness against Covid-19.

‘Fuelling sickness and death in Brazil is the overwhelming amount of disinformation,’ it said. It also condemned the country’s ‘half-speed’ vaccination campaign.

The organisation, which has operated in Brazil since 1991, has deployed medical teams in eight of Brazil’s 27 states to respond to the pandemic. 

The outbreak is pushing hospitals to breaking point with many patients dying before an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed becomes available.

ICU capacity currently stands at about 80 per cent across all of Brazil’s 27 regions.   

Moreover, over 50 per cent of intensive care beds are currently occupied by patients under 40 years old, according to a study published over the weekend by the Brazilian Association of Intensive Medicine. 

The outbreak is pushing hospitals to breaking point with many patients dying before an Intensive Care Unit bed becomes available (pictured, a field hospital in Santo Andre)

The outbreak is pushing hospitals to breaking point with many patients dying before an Intensive Care Unit bed becomes available (pictured, a field hospital in Santo Andre)

Over 50 per cent of intensive care beds are currently occupied by patients under 40 years old, according to a study published by the Brazilian Association of Intensive Medicine

Over 50 per cent of intensive care beds are currently occupied by patients under 40 years old, according to a study published by the Brazilian Association of Intensive Medicine

It is not clear why more young people are falling seriously ill during the current wave of the virus in Brazil, but some scientists think the new P1 variant could be at least partly to blame (pictured, freshly dug graves at a cemetery in Brasilia, Brazil)

It is not clear why more young people are falling seriously ill during the current wave of the virus in Brazil, but some scientists think the new P1 variant could be at least partly to blame (pictured, freshly dug graves at a cemetery in Brasilia, Brazil)

The new statistic is a jump of 16.5 per cent compared to the occupancy of that age group between December and February. The report is based on data from over a third of all the country’s intensive care wards.  

It is not clear why more young people are falling seriously ill during the current wave of the virus in Brazil, but some scientists think the new P1 variant that originated in the Amazon city of Manaus could be at least partly to blame.

Other factors, such as the behaviour of younger people who might feel less concerned about going out and socialising, and the vaccination of the elderly, could also be influencing the data. 

However, Brazil’s vaccination program has been painfully slow and only an estimated 3 per cent of the population, approximately 6.3 million people, have received both jabs. 

A further 21.1 million have received one vaccine, according to the country’s health ministry. But at least 1.5 million of them are behind schedule for their second jab and there has been no explanation for the delay from the government. 

Bolsonaro has drawn widespread criticism for his approach to the coronavirus, which he has described as a ‘little flu.’ 

He has repeatedly ignored calls of health experts to wear masks and railed against the use of lockdown measures.  

A probe into the government’s pandemic response was launched on Tuesday after a Supreme Court judge ruled last week that enough senators had backed the inquiry.   

The congressional investigation, known by its Portuguese acronym as a CPI, can result in a number of actions, including the referral of possible wrongdoing to law enforcement.  

A probe into the Bolsonaro's pandemic response was launched on Tuesday after a Supreme Court judge ruled last week that enough senators had backed the inquiry

 A probe into the Bolsonaro’s pandemic response was launched on Tuesday after a Supreme Court judge ruled last week that enough senators had backed the inquiry



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