The country ended the month of September with the lowest record of deaths from the disease in 2021; experts, however, warn of the importance of protocols to face the ‘final third’ of the pandemic
Brazil ended September with the lowest number of deaths for the Covid-19 since the beginning of 2021. There were 16,275 deaths from the disease in the month, while in April this year, the most lethal period, records totaled 82,401 victims. Although the September numbers show a drop in the national index, at least six states and the Federal District had an increase in the moving average of deaths throughout the week. In addition, on Wednesday, 28, the country registered 818 deaths due to Sars-CoV-2, a number significantly higher than the national moving average, which was around 540 deaths. Even if localized, these upward trends raise a question: can Brazil experience a new wave of Covid-19 in 2021? The infectologist, professor at Unicamp and consultant of the Brazilian Society of Infectology Raquel Stucchi believes that yes, Brazilians may face a new peak of infections by coronavirus in this year. According to her, the advance of vaccination, with the massive application of the second dose, should control the transmission of the disease and, consequently, the number of serious cases, hospitalizations and deaths. However, a new wave, driven by the Delta variant, should not be discarded.
“If we can have a third wave? We can, but I believe many things are helping us right now. THE vaccination advanced and managers continue to demand the use of masks, so despite the agglomerations, the demonstrations, we managed not to have an increase in the number of cases and to block transmission. Now, if people don’t show up for the second dose of vaccines, we can have the third wave by Delta or by another variant that arises”, he explains. Although not ruling out a new Covid-19 peak in Brazil, Raquel Stucchi explains that the localized increases in deaths from the disease in the States are not indicative of a new wave. “Increase exclusively in mortality, let’s put it this way, maybe it’s dammed data from municipalities or patients who were hospitalized for a long time, more serious patients [que evoluíram para óbito]. The exclusive analysis of mortality cannot be configured as the beginning of the third wave, it would only be if it were accompanied by the other indices as well”, he points out.
The infectious diseases specialist Melissa Valentini, from the Pardini Group, also considers that the variations in the rates of deaths by Covid-19 in some States require a more detailed analysis, considering the age group of victims, possible comorbidities and the indexes of vaccination coverage in each region. For her, it is possible that Brazil registers increases in infections, however, this should not be translated into a generalized increase in the rates. “What was seen in European countries was an increase in cases [com a chegada da Delta], but in a highly vaccinated population this did not reflect increased mortality. We are in a process of defervescence, especially in severe cases, because the vaccine may not protect against mild and moderate conditions, but it does protect against severe cases”, explains Valentini, who projects a tendency towards reduction of the coronavirus, but not extinction. “Sars-CoV-2, the Covid-19 virus, will remain with us, as will other respiratory viruses, such as influenza. Therefore, we need to immunize most people to reduce the circulation of the virus. It’s not the end of the pandemic because the coronavirus will live with us, but we’ve already started to have a breather.”
‘Final third’ of the pandemic
The head of infectious diseases at Unesp, Alexandre Naime Barbosa, also sees the increase in deaths by Covid-19 as a one-off reflex, not a national trend. Like Raquel Stucchi, he explains that the first sign of a new wave of the pandemic would be the increase in cases, later added to the high number of hospitalizations – from three to five weeks later – and deaths. Even with the increase in deaths recorded last Wednesday and variations in some states, the moving average of deaths continues to fall and, with these factors, a new peak for Covid-19 is “unlikely”. “We are living the final third of the pandemic. The virus is unlikely to accumulate more mutations that lead to attentional variants that escape vaccine escape. The coronavirus is depleting its ability to make mutations and circulation is dropping. So, with the projection of an increase in vaccination, the expectation is that we will have, at most, another year and a half of this situation that requires the use of a mask, social distance. Only if another completely unexpected phenomenon arises. Most likely, we will have another year of pandemic, that 2021 will be a year of deceleration and even completion [da crise sanitária].”