‘Bottlenecks decimated Brazilian city’s health network’

Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello says new virus variant could also explain situation

Gabriel Toueg   | 27.01.2021
‘Bottlenecks decimated Brazilian city’s health network’ Health workers are seen before giving vaccine shot for Covid-19 as Rio City Hall vaccinates health professionals at Ronaldo Gazolla Hospital, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 19, 2021. ( Fabio Teixeira - Anadolu Agency )


Brazil’s health minister said Tuesday that the collapse of the health network in the capital of Amazonas state was due to “decade-old bottlenecks” and differences in contamination rates possibly caused by the new P1 variant of the novel coronavirus. 

“Apparently, it is a strain that contaminates more, but with a degree of aggressiveness which is similar to the previous one,” said Eduardo Pazuello, who has been in Manaus since late Saturday.

Pazuello is at the center of a Supreme Court probe into the ministry’s inadequate response in the face of the network’s collapse in the city of Manaus. 

His remarks came as Sao Paulo state confirmed three COVID-19 cases related to the new variant. 

Pazuello also said the increase in cases recorded in Amazonas at the beginning of the year “was a situation completely unknown to everyone.” He said the government should relocate 1,500 COVID-19 patients from Amazonas to other states for medical treatment, a number more than six times higher than the initial plan to relocate 235 people.   

An audit by Brazil’s federal accountability office (TCU) also ruled as illegal the use of Unified Health System (SUS) resources for supplying chloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

According to the TCU, the supply of the drug, used to treat malaria and not proven effective against COVID-19, could only have been carried out with the approval of the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) or international health authorities, which did not occur.

In his order, Justice Benjamin Zymler from the TCU asked the Ministry of Health to inform the TCU within five days of its official position on chloroquine and to explain measures taken to demonstrate “consistency” in the ministry's guidelines to regional authorities.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 217,712 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded across Brazil, while the total number of infected people has reached 8,872,964, according to figures gathered from each state’s health secretaries.

The country has recorded a daily average of more than 1,000 deaths over the past five days. Around 685,000 people in Brazil have been vaccinated so far.

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