Brazil’s death count in the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 400,000 Thursday, as the country struggled to secure enough vaccines and the Senate investigated whether President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has exacerbated the crisis.
The health ministry reported 3,001 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing Brazil’s overall count to 401,186 — second only to the United States.
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.
Although it appears to have passed the peak of the new wave, the number of daily deaths remains staggeringly high, at an average of 2,526 over the past week, behind only India.
Experts blame the latest surge on the “Brazil variant” of the virus, a mutation that emerged in or around the Amazon rainforest city of Manaus in December.
Known as P1, it can reinfect people who have had the original strain of the virus, and may be more contagious.
Around 28 million people in Brazil have received a first Covid-19 vaccine dose, just over 13 percent of the population.
About 12.7 million have received a second.
But cities in 14 of Brazil’s 27 states have had to suspend second doses because of shortages, according to TV Globo.
The Senate meanwhile opened an investigation Tuesday into whether there was criminal neglect in the Bolsonaro administration’s handling of the pandemic.
The far-right president has controversially downplayed the virus, fought stay-at-home measures to contain it and rejected offers of various vaccines.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)