The South American nation, home to half of the continent’s population, has now suffered 600,425 deaths from coronavirus. It is only the second country to cross the 600,000 mark, after the United States which has recorded 712,695 deaths.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the pandemic. The conservative populist leader has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the outbreak, said he would not get vaccinated because he had previously had Covid-19, and defended the unproven malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as treatment.
Over the past year, Bolsonaro has frequently lashed out against municipal and state lockdown orders in Brazil, even during the darkest times of the pandemic, when hospitals have filled to capacity and entire cities. lacked oxygen.
Earlier this month, thousands of protesters gathered in major cities across Brazil, calling for the president’s impeachment amid worsening economic conditions, rising unemployment and hunger in the ravaged country by Covid.
Deaths have risen sharply in Brazil, which crossed the 500,000 mark in June.
Vaccines offer hope
But despite Friday’s tragic step, there are now signs that infections in Brazil are finally declining, as the country ramps up vaccinations after a slow start, Reuters reports. More than 70% of Brazilians have received a first dose, compared to 65% in the United States.
“The vaccine rejection rate is really low, it makes other countries jealous,” said Alexandre Naime Barbosa, head of epidemiology at Sao Paulo State University. “It’s really important for Brazil to contain the pandemic. “
Brazil also appears to have been spared the worst of the Delta variant so far, with deaths and recorded cases declining despite the arrival of the most contagious strain.