As I write, France is going through the third wave of Covid-19 on April 6, 2020. Since they had reopened too much since they checked the cases, the virus circulated again. Your intensive care beds for Covid are full: there are 5,433 inpatients. In light of the disaster, the country imposed a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. and imposed trade and traffic restrictions on a third of the population for a month. It is not known if it is enough to contain the virus.
In Brazil, where we have recorded about one in three deaths from Covid worldwide in the past few weeks, the health minister says the order is in place to avoid the lockdown. The result is very clear. This Tuesday we recorded more than 4,200 deaths from Covid, a new record.
In the state of São Paulo alone, there are more than 13,000 patients in intensive care beds for Covid in the hospital and more than 1,000 patients who need one, but no vacancy. São Paulo has four times more ICU patients than France, but the number of ICUs and health professionals is certainly not proportional.
It is no coincidence that the mortality of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care units in Brazil is so high. We increased the beds in intensive care units in hospitals until they no longer fit. Every Brazilian doctor has to care for many more patients than in other countries. The health of those standing in line for a bed worsens long before the job becomes vacant. And our patients are still tempted to take the “Covid-Kit”.
In other words, the problem isn’t that there is a lack of beds. There are just too many patients with Covid. We could increase health spending even further, import skilled workers from abroad, turn hotels into intensive care units and not be able to insure Covid with medical care. It is worth remembering that if the patient dies, which is the case in 80% of cases in Brazil, or “heals” and leaves there with atrophy and health consequences that we do not know about, a vacancy is opened in the intensive care unit how long they will last.
Vaccines won’t solve our problem now either. They are critical to saving thousands of lives, but it takes months between each dose given and the time it takes vaccines to develop immunity. This means that even if we had two doses for Brazilians today, a possibility the country would have eliminated by denying doses in 2020, vaccination wouldn’t get us out of the morass of deaths we find ourselves in – who will say to achieve the collective immunity that the economy ministers promised in four months. In fact, vaccination depends on cases being closed and controlled to contain Covid.
After more than a year in the pandemic, the federal government has not yet accepted the need to encourage social distancing and closure to contain the cases. We discussed whether states and cities have opened enough beds. We discussed whether or not SUS vaccines should go to the private sector if no manufacturer agrees to sell them to private buyers. The Citizenship Minister misinforms the population that insects have contaminated Covid residents at home, while Covid is where more than 3,000 Brazilians die every day. In April we should register more deaths as early as 2021 than in all of 2020.
Brazil is not Covid’s current cemetery because Brazilians want to go. Countries around the world have had to put lockdowns in place so people could stay at home. We are where we are because we choose not to put a lockdown or give people financial and social conditions to stay at home. And we will lose thousands of lives every day until we do that.
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