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Coronavirus today: Brazil records 3rd highest pandemic death toll; São Paulo may decree lockdown

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The media outlet consortium has released a new survey of the coronavirus pandemic situation in Brazil based on data from state health secretariats, updated at 8 PM yesterday, February 23rd.

 Brazil records 3rd highest pandemic death toll
Brazil records 3rd highest pandemic death toll. (Photo internet reproduction)

The country recorded 1,370 deaths from covid-19 in the last 24 hours, reaching a total of 248,646 deaths since the pandemic began. Consequently, the rolling average of deaths in Brazil in the last 7 days was 1,095. This adds 34 days with an average above the 1,000 mark. There was a +4% variation compared to the average of 14 days ago, suggesting stability in terms of deaths from the disease.

The 1,095 daily deaths rolling average is the third highest recorded to date. It is behind only February 14th, when it stood at 1,105, and July 25th, when it reached 1,097. Of the five highest averages in on record, four were registered over the last 10 days.

In terms of confirmed cases, since the pandemic began 10,260,621 Brazilians have been or are infected with the novel coronavirus, with 63,090 of those confirmed in the preceding day. The rolling average over the last 7 days stood at 48,469 new daily diagnoses. This represents a +5% variation over cases recorded in two weeks, suggesting a trend toward stability in diagnoses too.

Twelve states are registering an increase in deaths: PR, RS, SC, GO, AC, PA, RO, RR, BA, CE, PB, and RN.

São Paulo assessing “curfew” to relieve hospitals

Pressured by the figures showing that ICUs are overwhelmed, mainly in cities in the interior of São Paulo state, governor João Doria may decree a compulsory lockdown to prevent people from circulating on the streets between 10 PM and 6 AM, Monday through Friday.

On weekends, the plan is to extend the curfew by at least one hour, from 9 PM to 6 AM, sources connected to the São Paulo government said. The proposal was discussed yesterday by the governor with his health committee. The final decision will be announced today by Doria, after a meeting with members of the Covid-19 Contingency Center, which swas to take place in the morning.

Fiocruz confirms arrival of 2 million vaccine doses from India

The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) confirmed yesterday the arrival of another 2 million ready doses of the covid-19 (recombinant) vaccine.

In a short note released to the press, the institution said that the immunizers, sent by the Serum Institute, in India, were forwarded to Bio-Manguinhos for checking the cargo’s temperature and integrity, in addition to labeling data in Portuguese.

Rio de Janeiro mayor confirms vaccination resumption

Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes confirmed on Twitter the resumption of the first dose vaccination schedule against covid-19 in the Rio de Janeiro capital as of tomorrow, February 25th. The possibility had already been suggested by the politician in a trip to Brasilia yesterday.

According to Paes’ post, tomorrow seniors over 82 will be vaccinated; on Friday, February 26th, seniors over 81; and on Saturday, February 27th, seniors over 80. Rio’s mayor added that other dates will be announced after new vaccine doses are delivered.

Fiocruz develops tool for faster variant detection

The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) announced in a press release the development of a new tool that will allow the faster detection of covid-19 strains circulating in the country. In practice, the new tool may allow not only to determine if an individual is infected with the disease, but also if it would be a covid-19 variant.

In a report on the subject, Fiocruz detailed that the RT-PCR test was developed by researchers at the Instituto Leônidas & Maria Deane (ILMD/Fiocruz Amazônia). The tool was announced by Felipe Naveca, researcher and deputy director of Research and Innovation at Fiocruz Amazon. The new test allows for the screening of the most important covid-19 strains circulating in Brazil, the foundation detailed.

Lockdown helps, but vaccine is crucial, says Temporão

The growing adherence of Brazilian cities to curfews to contain the spread of the coronavirus reflects governors’ desperation as they see their healthcare system on the verge of collapse. But the measure is not a silver bullet to solve the epidemic, says ex- Health Minister José Gomes Temporão. He says that decreeing lockdowns produce localized effects, by temporarily flattening the epidemic peaks, but clarifies that only mass vaccination can provide a more lasting solution, given that the novel coronavirus is here to stay.

“This measure at this point evidences the desperation of municipal managers. All we see at this moment is a macabre synthesis of what we failed to do in 2020. Without vaccinating a significant portion of the population, the agony will only be prolonged,” he said.
Prosecutor’s Office wants health insurance to cover vaccination

Faced with the Ministry of Health’s challenges in expediting the vaccination program against covid-19, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) is calling on the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS) for vaccines to be included in the list of procedures covered by health plans.

The prosecutors’ goal is for the agency to prepare a coverage health plan for a time when the vaccines will be available in the private network.

Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency says Pfizer vaccine has mild to moderate reaction

The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency reported that Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine, developed in partnership with the German Biontech laboratory, shows a mild to moderate reaction, observed between the first and third day after administration, according to the agency’s general manager of medicines and biological products, Gustavo Mendes. The American company’s immunizer was the first to be granted definitive registration in Brazil.

The agency’s official said that no acute reaction to the vaccine was detected by Pfizer’s studies, but assured that the agency will continue to monitor any reports of adverse effects. The information was confirmed by the regulatory agency’s general manager of product monitoring, Suzie Gomes. “Drug surveillance activities are part of the routine for new products,” she said.

Federal Supreme Court unanimously confirms authorization to use vaccines approved abroad

The Federal Supreme Court (STF) unanimously confirmed the injunction allowing states, the Federal District and municipalities to import and distribute vaccines approved by renowned foreign health agencies, should the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency take more than 72 hours to authorize them.

The monocratic decision was issued in December by justice Ricardo Lewandowski and submitted to a referendum by the remaining justices, who judged the case in virtual plenary last week. All STF justices agreed with the reporting justice’s vote, without exception.

Brazil is the 7th market to receive more vaccines

Brazil ranks 7th among the markets receiving the highest number of covid-19 vaccines to date, according to a survey presented yesterday by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) at a briefing to journalists in Geneva.

Data compiled by Airfinity consulting firm show that about 300 million doses have already been delivered by manufacturers, while 26% have been received by the US, where the death toll reached 500,000 on Monday.

Rapporteur removes the option of vaccine purchase by the private sector from Provisional Measure

The rapporteur of the provisional measure (MP) easing the process of covid-19 vaccine purchases, deputy Pedro Westphalen (PP-RS) yesterday waived the option of purchase of immunizers by the private sector and removed this section from his opinion. “We have to force the state to be competent in this respect [of vaccination],” he said.

Senate recreates committee to monitor measures against covid-19

The Senate approved yesterday the creation of a temporary commission to monitor health, fiscal and budgetary and financial measures against covid-19. Last year, a commission with the same goal was comprised of deputies and senators.

The collegiate will feature six full members, with the same number of substitute members. Its operation term will run for 120 days and one of the targets will be the vaccination program nationwide.

Impasse persists in the WTO over India’s proposal to suspend vaccine patents

An impasse continued yesterday over a proposal by India and South Africa to allow countries to suspend patents and other intellectual property instruments linked to fighting the covid-19 pandemic, which continues to kill thousands of people every day.

At a new meeting at the World Trade Organization (WTO), countries agreed only that discussions should continue. Some countries say it is important to discuss the role that intellectual property can play in the context of covid-19 and in fighting future pandemics.

Brazil, which initially supported developed countries in opposing India and South Africa, is no longer speaking out either for or against the proposal. The Brazilian cautious stance was prompted by demands from Brasilia for covid-19 vaccines produced in India, and also by pressure from non-governmental organizations.

India and South Africa’s proposal, submitted on October 2nd, 2020, has since been co-sponsored by Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, the African Group, and the Group of poorest nations. In total, there are 57 countries co-sponsoring the initiative, which is also supported by Jamaica on behalf of the 62-member Pacific Group (ACP), Africa, and the Caribbean, as well as Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Honduras, Cuba, Nepal, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Tunisia, Mali, and the Mauritius.

Yesterday, the Santé Sé delegation, which has observer status at the WTO, took the floor and said that the world is on the brink of a catastrophic global failure. It alerted that the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries. He complained that in recent weeks some countries and companies have continued to prioritize bilateral agreements.

Ghana is the first country to receive vaccines funded by the Covax facility

Ghana is to today receive the world’s first batch of SARS CoV-2 vaccines, funded by the Covax facility, a World Health Organization-led body that aims to provide immunizers to the most disadvantaged countries.

The announcement was made in a joint statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Ghana is to receive 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by India’s Serum Institute. These vaccines were shipped by UNICEF from Mumbai to Accra and are part of the first batch of covid-19 immunizers destined for several of the most disadvantaged countries,” the statement read.

“This delivery represents the beginning of what is expected to be the largest supply and distribution of vaccines in history,” it adds.

“The Covax facility plans to provide nearly 2 billion covid vaccines during this year. This is an unprecedented global effort to ensure that all citizens have access to vaccines,” the two bodies stated.

Argentina’s president defends ministers who jumped vaccination line

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez yesterday defended ministers and other government officials who were vaccinated against covid-19 amid accusations that they jumped the vaccination line in the country.

Fernández also criticized the Justice Department for opening investigations into the scandal, which is being called “VIP Vaccination” by the Argentine press, but assessed as “reprehensible” the attitude of Ginés González García, who resigned from his post after the disclosures.

The Argentine president said he reacted immediately when he learned of the case and criticized the political use of the scandal. “The fact was serious enough for a minister of his stature to leave office, but let’s put an end to this nonsense,” Fernández said.

“This crime [jumping the vaccination line] doesn’t exist,” he continued. “If they [Justice] want to work, there are many crimes to investigate, such as [Mauricio] Macri’s tolls, the terrible and unfortunate debt that Argentina has experienced, the emptying of Congress, the wind farm deals, and the responsibility of a minister who commanded a submarine in which 44 crew died,” the president added, referring to cases that occurred in his predecessor’s government.

The scandal was disclosed last week when a former aide to the country’s vice-president Cristina Kirchner, admitted that he had been invited to cut the line for covid-19 vaccination.

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