Collapse Foretold: How Brazil’s Covid-19 Epidemic Overwhelmed Hospitals

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Collapse Foretold: How Brazil's Covid-19 Epidemic Overwhelmed Hospitals


Last year, Mr Bolsonaro’s government accepted Pfizer’s offer of tens of millions of doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. The president later celebrated clinical trial failures for CoronaVac, the Chinese-made vaccine that Brazil has largely come to rely on, and joked that drug companies would not be held responsible if people who received newly developed vaccines turned into alligators.

“The government first dismissed the threat of the pandemic, then the need for preventive measures, then goes against the science by promoting miracle cures,” said Natália Pasternak, microbiologist in São Paulo. “It confuses the population, which means people feel safe going out on the streets.”

Terezinha Backes, a 63-year-old retired shoemaker living in a municipality on the outskirts of Porto Alegre, had been extremely cautious over the past year, only venturing out when necessary, said her nephew, Henrique Machado .

But her 44-year-old son, a security guard tasked with measuring the temperatures of people entering a medical facility, appears to have brought the virus home earlier this month.

Ms Backes, who was in good health, was taken to hospital on March 13 after she began to have difficulty breathing. With no bed to lose, she was treated with oxygen and an intravenous drip in the hallway of an overflowing wing. She died three days later.

“My aunt was not allowed to fight for her life,” said Machado, 29, a pharmacist. “She was left in a hallway.

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