RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's seven-day total for deaths from COVID-19 has fallen to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic, according to online research website Our World in Data.
In the seven days through Nov. 1 the nation recorded 2,188 deaths -- a level unseen since April 2020 -- amid increasingly widespread vaccination.
After a sluggish start, Latin America’s largest nation has now fully vaccinated more than half its population. That share is even higher in some large cities, such as Sao Paulo, where virtually 100% of the adult population has had at least one shot and more than 90% are fully vaccinated. And a greater percentage of Brazilians have had at least one dose than Americans, according to the data site.
That has put the nation's number of virus deaths on a downward trend for the last four months. Experts' widely expressed concern that Brazil could see a renewed surge from the spread of the delta variant thus far hasn't materialized.
The nation's current daily toll is just one-tenth the gruesome peak witnessed in April 2021. That surge coupled with outrage over President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic triggered the formation of a Senate committee to investigate the government's actions.
After six months of hearings, the committee last week recommended Bolsonaro and dozens of others face criminal charges.
Its nearly 1,300-page report drew attention to his government's delayed response to pharmaceutical companies’ offers to sell millions of vaccines, as well as Bolsonaro's insistent touting of dubious, unproven treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that scientists have long since determined is ineffective.
Bolsonaro has denied all wrongdoing, and cast himself as having courageously pushed back on political correctness and recommendations from global health experts that would thrash the economy and hurt the poor.
Brazil has recorded about 609,000 deaths, the world’s second-highest total after that of the U.S.
In Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo on Tuesday, dozens of mourners in a group named “The COVID-19 Widows” gathered and criticized the government's management of the health crisis. In Rio, they held a banner that read: "They’re not numbers, they’re lives.”
“My husband died and just two weeks later it would have been his turn to take the vaccine, due to a comorbidity," Katia Araújo, 41, told The Associated Press in Sao Paulo. "It disgusts us, because we think, if it had been more organized, planned, he and many other victims wouldn’t have died. They would be here.” ___ AP videojournalist Tatiana Pollastri contributed from Sao Paulo.
David Biller And Diane Jeantet, The Associated Press