Manaus of Brazil is collapsing again. Is a new coronovirus to blame?

Inside, the medics give CPR to a woman in an ultimately futile attempt to save her life. A source in the hospital said that CNN died soon.

Three Kovid-19 patients died in four hours outside the hospital Hilda Fryer on Tuesday morning, CNN said.

Anarchy has become the norm here this month. What is happening in this undefined hospital surrounded by the Amazon rainforest is a small example of a new, larger Kovid-19 outbreak adjoining northwest Brazil.

This new outbreak, far away from Erranduba, is not the epicenter of Manaus. The Amazonas state capital is often referred to as the gateway to the Amazon, its main connection to the rest of the world by plane or boat.

If the city’s name sounds familiar, it could be because it was the scene of one of the world’s worst Kovid-19 outbreaks in April and May. The health care system collapsed and images of thousands of newly dug graves became symbols of Brazil’s coronavirus crisis, its death now second only to the United States.

The current situation is worse than before. January has so far proved to be the deadliest month of the epidemic in Manaus.

In May, 348 people were buried here, the worst month ever. In the first three weeks of January, the number was 1,333.

While genomic testing in Manaus is not widespread, scientists tell CNN that the government suggests a new virus version mixed with inactivity to create a tragic perfect storm.

Aerial view of an area of ​​the Noosa Senhora Aparacida cemetery, where the tomb is dug in Manaus in May 2020.

A new coronavirus version

Four epidemiologists told CNN that a new coronovirus variant, called P.1, is likely driving a new round of destruction that is Manaus.

Scott Hensley, a viral immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “I’m usually no alarmist about these kinds of things, but I’m concerned with what we’re seeing in Brazil right now.”

Scientists say the new version of the virus originated in Brazil, and although much remains to be learned about it, there are several reasons for concern.

How a city missed warning after warning until its health system collapsed

First, new data suggests that it is more transitive.

Researchers at the Brazilian Heath research institute Ferrocruz are studying newly infected people in Manaus. According to the study, 90 out of 90 have participated, 66 had an infection due to this new version, according to FeroCruz researcher Felipe Gomes Naveka.

Although not conclusive, experts say it lends credibility to the idea that this version is more easily permeable.

“If it had the ability to spread more efficiently, (it) is likely that it might actually be more and more effective,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday.

FiroCruz researchers have also documented at least one case of a person who tested positive for the new version, despite having antibodies to the previous version of Kovid-19 infection. This may suggest that people may be reunited with the new version, although a case is far from being evidence.

“The fact that we are seeing the infection right now indicates that circulating virus is either more permeable, that it can survive antibodies or a combination of both,” Hensley said.

Good News? For now, it appears that current Kovid-19 vaccines may still protect from the pattern of mutations seen in the new version – although all epidemiologists interviewed said that much more research was needed.

The man with the oxygen tank in Irunduba.

It’s not just the variants

Just to blame the latest outbreak on the variant would be to miss the forest for the trees. The new variant is only part of a broader system that has failed people in the Amazonas state.

Start with the lack of a coordinated federal response, a hallmark of the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during the epidemic.

After the first wave, it was clearly evident that Manaus’s health care system could not handle another such crisis.

But on the worst days of April, May and June, the federal government did not double its response here, ensuring that the city would not again have a severe shortage of ventilators, drugs, oxygen and bed space.

Instead, the sense of complacency declined, as leaders like Jair Bolsonaro called the idea of ​​the second wave a lie. In November, he asked his people to accept the virus as mandatory and not be afraid of the virus “like the country’s quarrel.”

Now critics are wondering whether a similar decency has slowed the federal health ministry’s response to this month’s sign of another crisis in the psyche.

Federal investigators are looking into why Health Minister Eduardo Pazuelo was not quick to send help to the city following the spike cases documented in December, and then in January an oxygen supplier flagged the issues.

“However the increase in the number of Kovid-19 cases was verified [in Manaus] In the week of Christmas 2020, a week after the health minister was informed of the state of the disaster, only until January 3 did he choose to send representatives to the ministry in Manaus, “a report by the country’s attorney general that Brazil’s federal supreme Was presented to the court.

Pazuelo has defended his actions, for a disaster he argues that no one can foresee.

“It was a completely unknown situation for everyone,” he said on Tuesday. “It was too fast.”

Stage was set

But a basic understanding of how the virus develops would have suggested that the condition was very forthcoming.

As the lockdown was reduced at the end of last year, the business reopened and people flooded the streets. Despite warnings by many experts that the virus was spreading, Manaus had more mild behavior towards the virus.

There was a widespread misconception that the first wave of Kansvid-19 of Manasvi is intended to reach a large population.

Brazilian officials were warned for six days before the oxygen crisis in Manaus

“People started living, as if we had a normal life, not using masks with too much of a crowd,” said Nauka, a Folkroos researcher. “We saw it a lot during Christmas and the end of the year.”

As CNN has previously reported, even according to scientific warnings, Manaus and Amazonas state officials faced pressure – from the public’s and Bolsonaro’s own statements – to refrain from implementing strict lockdown measures.

But around the world, wherever existing strains of the Kovid-19 were allowed to roam, the basis was being laid for the emergence of new variants.

“The virus is getting an opportunity to detect all these different genetic types and those who favor it are now being selected,” Hesley said.

Put another way, the more viruses are allowed to spread, the more opportunities there are to develop and create new variants.

Natalie Galen of CNN and journalists Marcia Reverdosa and Eduardo Duve contributed to this report.


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