BRASÍLIA (Reuters) – Brazil beat a daily record of 4,249 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, with hospitals full and out of supplies and the Senate about to open an investigation into the response of President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, which downplayed the pandemic from the beginning.
Brazil is approaching the single-day record that the United States recorded on January 20 of 4,405 deaths, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak in Brazil is getting out of control, with scarce vaccines and Bolsonaro struggling against roadblocks.
The public health system has shown increasing signs of weakness with the number of cases, and a survey conducted this week by the National Association of Private Hospitals (ANAHP) suggests that even the wealthiest hospitals are lacking in essential medicines.
Three out of four private hospitals said they had a week or less of supplies for the treatment of COVID-19, including oxygen, anesthesia and essential drugs for intubation, according to the ANAHP survey of 88 member hospitals across Brazil.
Bolsonaro’s government has minimized the risk that hospitals will run out of medicines, while the right-wing leader tries to calm fears of the virus, while criticizing local and state efforts to restrict movement.
“We are not going to cry over spilled milk. We are still experiencing a pandemic that, in part, is being used politically – not to defeat the virus, but to overthrow the president, ”Bolsonaro said in a public speech on Wednesday. “In what country of the world do people not die? Unfortunately, people die everywhere. “
The Brazilian Senate plans to create a special committee next week to investigate the government’s response to the pandemic, said Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco.
A Supreme Court judge ruled on Thursday that the Senate should proceed with setting up the commission, which Pacheco tried to postpone, despite having already been passed by a sufficient number of senators.
In stating that he will comply with the court order, Pacheco said that it is too early to investigate while Brazil is still dealing with the crisis and that the committee would jeopardize the members’ health, since its meetings are in person.
More than 345,000 people died of COVID-19 in Brazil, making it the second most deadly outbreak after the United States, whose population is about 50% larger, about 330 million.
The Supreme Court of Brazil also ruled on Thursday that state and municipal bans on religious meetings were legal, in a coup for Bolsonaro, who called them an attack on religious freedom.
While Brazil suffers the worst of the pandemic, the country has become a testing ground for new vaccines.
Health regulator Anvisa on Thursday approved the fifth trial at an advanced stage for a coronavirus vaccine, giving the green light to a study by Canadian Medicago R&D Inc and GlaxoSmithKline PLC.
Anvisa said that the companies were authorized to carry out phase 3 trials in Brazil. The companies are recruiting around 3,500 Brazilian volunteers for the study, which will include around 30,000 people, in the United States, Canada, Europe and Latin America.
Reporting by Jake Spring and Ricardo Brito in Brasília and Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Additional reporting by Eduardo Simões and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Diane Craft and Grant McCool