What are the chances of a new outbreak of covid in Brazil?

On the streets of Brazil, the majority of the population already circulates without a mask and even in closed places the accessory has already fallen into disuse. In recent days, however, the pharmaceutical sector has warned of an increase in demand for exams and self-tests with positive results.

THE RFI heard three experts in the field to understand the risks of a new wave of coronavirus in the country. Their assessment is that the pandemic is not over: many countries have a low rate of vaccination, creating a favorable terrain for the emergence of a new global variant, as happened with the omicron.

The current situation, they say, still requires a vaccination schedule with booster doses and care, such as the use of a mask in closed places. None of them, however, believe that there will be serious waves of cases in the country in the short term.

“I do not believe in a new major wave of deaths in a short space, although there may be an increase in cases. Brazil has a satisfactory vaccination coverage, although it leaves a little to be desired in the application of the booster dose. of the population was exposed to the virus during the wave of the ômicron, we are still going through a moment where the degree of immunity in the population allows the indicators to remain at a comfortable level”, he told RFI Mauro Sanchez, epidemiologist at the Department of Public Health at the University of Brasília.

“This flexibilization of the rules that we have seen is understandable, but we must be aware that the situation may change in the short or medium term because there is already a consensus in the scientific literature that new variants will appear. What we don’t know is how transmissible and virulent they will be”, warns Sanchez. The moving average of new cases is up 29% in two weeks. The average variation of deaths by Covid is stable: 100 deaths were recorded daily in the last seven days.

Remedy against Covid

For doctor André Bon, an infectious disease specialist at the University Hospital of Brasília, the world will still have to live with the reality of the coronavirus for a long time, given the possibility of new mutations of the virus, but he recalls that Brazil today can face the problem. much more favorably than in previous waves.

“Right now, in addition to the vaccine, we have more and more drugs available for the treatment of Covid, some even with forecast use in the SUS. The epidemiological scenario is very different from what we had at the beginning of the pandemic”.

According to the infectologist, it is necessary to work on the genetic sequencing of cases and monitor the increase in contagion and bed occupations. The aim is to be able to react quickly in the event of a new wave.

“People are failing to do tests, such as PCR, as was the case before and are looking for self-tests or pharmacy tests. This can make monitoring and notification a little difficult. We need to keep records because we will still have to deal with this situation for a while as we live in a globalized world and there may be new versions of the virus”.

Clean hands and use of masks

In Brazil, 77% of the population has a complete vaccination schedule, with the second dose and 41% received an extra booster dose. States and municipalities have withdrawn health requirements such as mandatory use of masks in the face of the reduction in cases and deaths this year.

“We can’t say anything yet about the end of the pandemic. All those who made very assertive predictions about the situation involving the coronavirus were wrong. One of the characteristics of these emerging diseases is the unpredictability and ability of these organisms to evolve, with the emergence of variants”, he explained. Eliseu Waldman, from the epidemiology department at USP. “It is possible that there will be new outbreaks, new peaks. However, it is more likely that these events will become less frequent and less intense.”

Waldman, however, points out that despite the more controlled situation in Brazil due to vaccination, there are still considerable daily deaths and therefore it is necessary to maintain personal and collective care.

“It is good to remember that deaths continue because the disease affects those most vulnerable more severely. So the message is that people get the vaccine, not just stay in the basic immunization schedule, they also take booster doses. We must continue with the use of a mask, avoid agglomeration, especially in closed places, and maintain hand hygiene.”

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