977.8K NEW COVID-19 CASES IN LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN FROM 12-18 APRIL 2021
78.1M COVID-19 VACCINE DOSES ADMINISTERED IN LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
According to PAHO, the slow delivery of vaccines, challenges in vaccination roll-outs, the premature easing of public health measures and the circulation of more contagious variants are leading to a COVID-19 surge in the region. South America continues to be the epicentre of the virus, with cases rising sharply in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and areas in Bolivia bordering Brazil, while Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile also report growing caseloads.
The highly contagious P.1 variant from Brazil is driving the surge in cases and deaths in South America and some neighboring Caribbean countries, including Guyana and French Guiana, with cumulative cases in the sub-region now approaching 23,000,000.
As the pandemic rages on, largely fueled by the highly contagious P.1 variant, Brazil’s two biggest vaccine producers are facing supply shortages. Brazil has been largely dependent on the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by the Fiocruz Health Institute, and the Chinese-manufactured CoronaVac.
Against the mounting pressure to scale up their roll-out, the Ministry of Health acquired tens of millions of shots from Sao Paulo state’s Butantan Institute. However, both the Butantan Institute and Fiocruz now face supply constraints, as the former has suspended production while it awaits the active ingredient from China, while the latter has produced a mere 4 million of the 50 million doses it agreed to deliver by the end of April.
Brazil now faces a worsening public health crisis, with the Government only managing to fully vaccinate 7,506,646 people, the equivalent of 3.5 per cent of the population, as intensive care units (ICUs) are above 90 per cent capacity in most states and 7 out of every 10 hospitals are at risk of running out of oxygen and anesthetic.
According to WHO, Mexico could have avoided 190,000 deaths during the pandemic in 2020. Mexico, which ranks fourth in excess mortality, only behind Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, recorded 43 per cent more deaths in 2020 than expected when compared to trends from 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Recently, the Government itself reported that its real COVID-19 death toll is more than 110,000 higher than the approximately 210,000 COVID19-related deaths officially reported.
As resource-strapped hospitals became overwhelmed amid the pandemic, patients were encouraged not to seek medical attention unless experiencing severe symptoms, which contributed to high mortality rates, with an estimated 58 per cent deaths occurring outside hospitals.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.