Michael Dantas / AFP via Getty Images
Brazil surpassed 400,000 deaths from coronavirus on Thursday, at the end of the deadliest month of the pandemic in the country.
At the latest count, 401,186 people had died in Brazil, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University, a great triumph that only the United States has surpassed.
More Brazilians have died from the virus in the first four months of this year than in all of 2020, and the death toll rose from 300,000 to 400,000 in the last five weeks alone.
The average daily death has dropped recently, from more than 3,000 two weeks ago to an average of less than 2,400 deaths, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
Yet health systems remain under intense pressure, and amid the relaxation of COVID-19 measures, the slow launch of the vaccine, and the spread of a more contagious variant of the virus, experts predict the pandemic will soon get worse. .
Less than 7% of Brazilians are fully vaccinated. Shortage of vaccine supplies has prevented some from receiving their crucial second dose.
Brazilians are increasingly resisting social distancing as towns and cities ease restrictions, hailed by President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro, who continues to attack COVID-19 restrictions, has been widely criticized for his handling of the health crisis. In a television interview on Friday, the president accused governors of using closures to stifle the public’s right to freedom of movement and threatened to use military force to intervene.
A Senate commission will analyze Bolsonaro’s conduct as part of an investigation it launched this week into the government’s response to the pandemic. Senators want to know why Bolsonaro challenged medical expertise to promote antimalarial drugs as a cure for the coronavirus and why he blocked the purchase of some vaccines last year.
In a short video message after his country reached the latest benchmark, Bolsonaro said in a video posted on his social media accounts that “a large number of deaths have been announced,” according to The Associated Press, and that he is “sorry for every death.” But he repeated his opposition to social distancing measures.
“I pray to God that there is no third wave,” Bolsonaro said. “But if the blockade policies continue, this country will be dragged into extreme poverty.”