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Reeling under his In the worst period of the pandemic, with daily records of cases and deaths, Brazil faces an overwhelming development: a growing number of deaths among young people.
So far this month, according to the government data, about 2,030 Brazilians Aged 30 to 39 have died from Covid, more than double the number recorded in January. Among those in their 40s, there have been 4,150 deaths in March, up from 1,823 in January, and between the ages of 20 and 29, deaths increased from 242 to 505.
“Before, the risk factor for dying from Covid-19 was being older, having some comorbidity,” said Domingos Alves, a professor of medicine who is part of the national monitoring group. “Now, the risk is to be Brazilian.”
Fiocruz, a nonprofit health organization, issued a Friday’s report showing the same trend with slightly different numbers.
Said cases among those Aged 30 to 59 had risen from the beginning of the year to mid-March at a rate almost double the national average of 316%. In those age groups, deaths increased by at least 317%, compared to 223% for Brazil as a whole.
In Sao Paulo, the country’s richest and most populous state, the increase is especially prominent in private hospitals, state Health Secretary Jean Gorinchteyn said in an interview. Those 60 and older continue to dominate hospital admissions, but the share of those under 50 has risen to 15% from 10% last year.
In the state capital, more and more people between 20 and 54 years old are infected, the city’s health secretary, Edson Aparecido, he told GloboNews TV on Friday. Younger patients wait longer to seek medical attention and are sicker when they arrive.
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The explanation for the rising infection rate among young people, in a country that is overwhelmingly young, remains unclear, although officials and medical experts suggest several possibilities. First, throughout 2020, local and regional restrictions hampered socialization. That changed with the holidays, the new year, and the loosening of confinements.
Second, a variant detected for the first time in the Amazonian city of Manaus is likely partly to blame, according to Jaques Sztajnbok, who helps run the ICU at the Emílio Ribas hospital, one of Brazil’s leading facilities for infectious diseases. Patients get heavily ill with that variant or with the UK variant, which is also more contagious. A study carried out in Sao Paulo found one of the two variants in 71% of the cases.
Third, vaccines are limited in Brazil and there is no deadline for inoculation of the offspring.
Fernando Brum, director of the Santa Casa de Sorocaba hospital, said that the mutation of the virus to a much more contagious version with a viral load that sickens people in a faster and more aggressive way has caused young people to go from mostly asymptomatic cases to be seriously affected.
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Brum, whose hospital is a two-hour drive from Sao Paulo, says ICUs are also full of 30-year-olds. He estimates that the age of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has decreased by 50% compared to 2020.
“The intensive care unit is constantly and uninterruptedly busy,” he said. 30-year-old patients occupy at least half of those beds, and the average time they spend in the hospital has tripled from last year. It’s been down recently for a terrible reason: patients die more quickly.
Sztajnbok said it is not unusual now to see people under 40 or even 20 without risk factors requiring intubation and life support. Before, he said, most patients were over 65. “The first time that happened, we were surprised,” he said. “We were also surprised the second time. Now we are not. “
The longest hospital stays are putting pressure on Brazil’s healthcare system, struggling after decades of underinvestment. UCI capacity rates were at 80% or higher in 25 states, according to the new Fiocruz report, while 17 states had levels higher than 90%.
In a March 23 report, Fiocruz also highlighted a “disproportionate increase in mortality in the country,” which rose to 3.1% from 2% at the end of last year. The jump indicates that patients could be dying due to lack of care or due to failures in medical care, he said.
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Brazil has become the epicenter of the pandemic, recently reporting records of more than 100,000 cases and 3,650 deaths per day. Home to 212 million people, the country trails only the US in the number of victims of the virus. While vaccines have recovered in the last week, the 19 million injections deployed so far have only covered 7% of the population with one dose and fully vaccinated around 2%.
The shift to younger victims means pregnant women are getting infected, said Fatima Marinho, an epidemiologist and senior advisor at Vital Strategies. The virus has also killed more children under the age of 10. They tend to have different symptoms, leading to an incorrect diagnosis, he added.
Marinho estimates a national death toll of 500,000 in June. It crossed 300,000 this week, two and a half months after hitting 200,000, half the time it took to go from 100,000 to 200,000.
Even if vaccination rates accelerate, he has another fear: “Such an intense virus circulation means that Brazil could soon have other strains of the virus that will become resistant to vaccines.”
– With the assistance of Isadora Sanches and Rafael Mendes