August was the month with the lowest number of deaths recorded by Covid-19 in 2021: 24,088 deaths were accounted for by the disease, point to data collected by the consortium of press vehicles with the country’s Health secretariats.
The number is the lowest seen since December 2020 (see chart below), when 21,811 deaths were registered. Despite this, experts heard by the G1 warn that:
- delta variant and incomplete vaccination increase risk an increase in cases and hospitalizations;
- high scenario already seen in Rio de Janeiro should be repeated in other states in 2 months;
- pandemic is not under control and miscommunication about the reopening of activities brings a false sense of security;
- the number of 800 deaths per day is not acceptable, as recorded on Tuesday (31).
Covid-19 deaths per month in Brazil
Source: Health Departments/Consortium of press vehicles/Exclusive G1 surveys
The number of deaths registered in August was also 37% lower than the July total. Considering the comparison with April – the worst month of the pandemic in the country – the drop in deaths was 70.8%.
Between July and August, there was a percentage drop in deaths by Covid-19 in all Brazilian states, with the exception of the Federal District and Goiás (see details below).
Two states – Acre and Amazonas – had, in August, the lowest number of deaths from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. In March 2020, the first deaths from the disease were registered in Brazil.
In Acre, 15 deaths were registered in August – the lowest number since March 2020, when the state did not record any deaths from the disease. Acre also had the largest percentage drop in deaths in all Brazilian states between July and August: 75.4% (see table). The state also has not registered new deaths for two consecutive days (see details on the press consortium methodology below).
Deaths by Covid-19/UF
|state||JULY 2021||AUGUST 2021||DIFFERENCE % JULY – AUGUST|
In Amazonas, they were registered 160 deaths last month – the lowest number since March 2020, when 3 deaths were counted. It is a drop of 1,670% compared to January 2021, when the state set a record for deaths by Covid, with 2,832 records.
Another 2 states – Piauí and Sergipe – registered, in August, the lowest number of deaths since april 2020. Rio Grande do Sul saw the lowest number of deaths since June 2020.
Only the Federal District and Goiás had a percentage increase in deaths by Covid-19 between July and August: of 17.62% and 11.53%, respectively. All other states registered a decline between the two months.
Delta variant and incomplete vaccination pose risks, scientists say
Production line of the CoronaVac vaccine, against Covid-19, at the Butantan Institute, in the West Zone of the city of São Paulo. — Photo: MISTER SHADOW/ASI/ESTADÃO CONTENT
In the assessment of experts heard by the G1, the delta variant and the incomplete vaccination – with the majority of vaccinated in the country having received only the first dose – bring risk of increased cases and hospitalizations by Covid-19 this month.
This is already happening in Rio de Janeiro and should be repeated in the rest of the country, according to the researchers. Also it is possible that there is an increase in deaths.
- Delta cases jump from 6% to 86% in RJ in two months, study points out
For physicist Domingos Alves, from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (USP) in Ribeirão Preto, the country is not expected to see an increase in deaths in absolute numbers from August to September, but the downward trends seen in recent weeks should be reversed.
“The upward trend in deaths and cases will increase until mid-September, for sure. I don’t think that for September, yet, we will see the absolute number of deaths as there was in August and July, but we are noticing that there is a drop in deaths and hospitalizations in all states [que] will change in September – started in Rio and now goes to São Paulo. Then the South, Midwest, Northeast and North”, says Alves.
‘Everything indicates that the delta variant will become dominant in Brazil,’ says pulmonologist
the notion that the situation in Rio is a harbinger for the rest of Brazil is shared by other scientists.
“Rio de Janeiro today is like Manaus in January, because the gamma variant started in January – January 14th, 15th in Manaus – and the rest of the country thinking it wouldn’t happen. It took around 2 months to see the rest of Brazil having the same pattern,” recalls epidemiologist Ethel Maciel, a professor at the Federal University of Espírito Santo (Ufes).
“Now we start in Rio de Janeiro – where it took around a month and a half to [a delta] be dominant. Very likely [é] it’s a matter of time, from what we’re seeing in all countries and now in Rio, including putting pressure on hospitalization, aggravation, beds, all over again,” he adds.
As of 30 August, according to data from state secretariats passed on to the Ministry of Health, 1,970 cases of the delta variant in Brazil had been recorded. Of these, 849 were in Rio, equivalent to 43%.
Ethel Maciel recalls, however, that testing in Brazil is insufficient. This means that, there are probably many unmapped infections..
“This issue of the number of cases in Brazil is difficult to estimate – as there is no testing program, the person needs to go [ao serviço de saúde fazer o teste]”, remember.
“It’s a similar phenomenon with the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel when the [variante] delta entered”, says Domingos Alves. “The difference [para o Brasil] is that the percentage of people vaccinated is very low in relation to those countries”, emphasizes Domingos Alves.
As of August 30, only about 29% of the Brazilian population had received either two doses or a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine. The highest rates are in Mato Grosso do Sul (about 44%), São Paulo (37%) and Rio Grande do Sul (35%). At the other end, Maranhão, Amapá and Roraima applied the complete vaccination scheme to only 21%, 15% and 13.5% of its inhabitants, respectively.
Behavior of those vaccinated with a dose
Although only the first dose of the vaccine does not guarantee protection against the coronavirus – especially against the delta variant -, having received a dose already makes people assume more risky behaviors, explains Ethel Maciel, including the (non) use of the mask.
In addition, in the researcher’s assessment, there is a sequence of errors in communication between governments and the population about the pandemic situation in the country.
“The pandemic continues unchecked. Everything needs to be done very carefully, and this communication – and not only from the federal government’s point of view, but [também] from the state government – the end of the 2022 campaign. You put lives at risk, people believe that the pandemic is under control, that vaccination in Brazil is wonderful,” says Maciel.
N95 or PFF2 masks are the most effective in protecting against coronavirus
“A race began between the states to see who will lower their age, as if vaccinating with the first dose were enough. It’s a worrying moment. People no longer think they need to wear a mask. It’s a complex situation, but it’s getting worse. more complex because of these communication errors with the population,” he says.
She recalls that, although the delta variant does not seem, as far as is known, to cause more severe cases of Covid-19, the fact that it is more transmissible makes it able to reach a greater number of people. In this way, increases the chance that she will “find” someone who will develop a serious condition or die.
In August, the daily average of deaths by Covid-19 (total number of deaths divided by the number of days in the month) was 777 deaths. In July, which has the same number of days, the mark had been 1,232 deaths.
Daily average of deaths recorded by Covid in 2021
Source: Health Departments/Consortium of press vehicles/Exclusive G1 surveys
But Maciel remembers that, despite a new perspective in relation to the same period last year because of vaccines, the country still registers, every day, a very large number of deaths from the disease.
“It is also always important to say that the fact that we’re getting around 800 deaths a day is not something to celebrate. 800 people are dying every day, it’s still awful. When we saw in Italy [em 2020] that 300 people were dying a day, it was a catastrophe. And now we have 800 people [morrendo] and we think that ‘it’s improving a lot, we’re great, we’re going to have Carnival'”, he says.
The consortium of press vehicles began the joint survey in early June 2020. Therefore, monthly data from February to May of last year are from exclusive surveys of G1. The source of both monitoring, however, is the same: the state health departments.
An important point is that the consortium monitors the date of registration of deaths, not the day they occurred. This means that deaths recorded in August may actually have occurred in July, and so on.
Another observation about the data is that, on July 28, 2020, the Ministry of Health changed the methodology for identifying Covid’s cases and started to allow diagnostic imaging (CT scan) to be notified. It also expanded the definitions of clinical cases (those identified only in the medical consultation) and included more possibilities for Covid tests.
Since the change, more than a thousand cases of Covid-19 have been reported by the state health departments to the federal government under the new criteria.