Week of May 10, 2021 | Issue 11
Aman Barekzai, EMH2
COVID-19 Patients Treated in Vila Penteado Hospital
Date: May 10, 2021
Location: Amazonas state, Brazil
Parties involved: Brazilian Government; Amazona State Government; State and Local health departments; Healthcare system; Health officials; Residents of Amazonas
The event: Data collected from Fiocruz InfoGripe research institute and Amazonas Health Secretary indicate that active COVID-19 cases throughout the Amazonas State have begun to rapidly accelerate. Infection rates increased by 42.3% in the last week of April 2021 after cases steadily increased for two consecutive weeks. Alongside a slow vaccination campaign and a vulnerable healthcare system, health officials believe it is likely that the Amazonas State could be hit by a third wave of COVID-19 within a month.
According to the Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation, 38% of Amazonas residents have been fully vaccinated. However, the Amazonas state is home to more than two million people across 1.5 million acres surrounded by dense forests. This poses a significant threat to Brazil’s vaccination campaign and healthcare officials due to the accessibility challenges of vaccinating residents in remote areas. Since several areas are only accessible via water or air, healthcare officials must also consider the logistical challenges of administering the COVID-19 vaccine.
The threat of a third COVID-19 wave is cause for concern. It is likely that if a third wave hits the Amazona state, it could last longer due to a vulnerable healthcare system. With fewer resources such as oxygen, limited beds, and PPE, more people could contract COVID-19. An influx of patients could collapse the healthcare system, making it difficult to contain the third wave. Additionally, a longer-lasting wave of COVID-19 may breed new lethal variants.
It is likely that as the international community attempts to secure COVID-19 vaccines, several regions across the world may not be able to further acquire vaccines due to increased demand and shortages. Delays in shipments will place individuals who have yet to receive a vaccine on hold, increasing their chances of contracting COVID-19.
It is possible that if the Amazonas state encounters a third wave of COVID-19, Brazil may institute nationwide lockdowns to contain it. However, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently ignored calls from government and healthcare officials to implement a national lockdown despite record COVID-19 deaths. Without strict guidelines, the third wave of COVID-19 may spread at uncontrollable rates.
As CTG and the EMH2 Team have observed, it is evident that in response to a third wave, the international community will implement travel bans and advisories, similar to India. Travel restrictions may have a significant impact on sectors such as tourism and trade, which could negatively influence the Brazilian economy. Furthermore, travel restrictions will make it difficult for Brazil to receive the necessary resources to combat another wave of COVID-19.
 Brazil’s Amazonas state braces for another COVID surge, Al Jazeera, May 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/5/10/brazil-amazonas-state-braces-for-another-covid-surge