This Devastating Covid-19 Outbreak In Brazil Is A Warning To The Rest Of The World

In March 2020, the Brazilian city of Manaus, the largest urban area in the Amazon, identified its first case of Covid-19. Prevalence of the disease went on to peak in early May, bringing untold devastation to local hospitals, economies, and community life. Researchers estimate that by October, as many as 76 percent of the city’s two million residents had been infected—a proportion that exceeds most theoretical thresholds for population immunity, the World Health Organization’s included.

Were population immunity the glimmering light at the end of the tunnel some purport it to be, Manaus would be in the clear—and for a few short months, the virus did appear to recede. But recent weeks have seen a surge of fresh cases that is once again overwhelming the city, its health infrastructure, and its people. Cemeteries, already swamped the first time around, have traded individual plots for mass graves; many hospitals have run out of available beds and supplies of oxygen; and average deaths per day are up 22 percent from before. If three quarters of Manaus residents did develop some level of immunity as a result of last year’s outbreaks, it doesn’t appear to be doing much to deter the virus today.

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Originally published on Forbes (January 22, 2021)

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.