While Brazil is already living better days in the pandemic caused by Sars-CoV-2, countries in Europe and Central Asia are facing a new wave of infections and deaths from the disease.
According to a survey described by Fiocruz, in the last week of October, countries in these regions were responsible for 59% of all cases and 48% of deaths registered worldwide.
Two main factors make Brazil’s moment different from that experienced by foreign nations and reduce the risk of our population experiencing a new wave, according to specialists consulted by the Live well.
The first one is the high adherence of the population to vaccination. According to data from the consortium of press vehicles, considering the entire population, there are already 129,703,343 million Brazilians with the second dose or single dose applied — about 80% of the country’s adult population. “Although those who are vaccinated can also be infected and transmit the disease, the chances of serious cases and deaths are greatly reduced”, assesses infectious disease physician Evaldo Stanislau, who works at USP’s Hospital das Clínicas, in the city of São Paulo.
The more people vaccinated in a country, as shown in the chart below, produced by European Commission, the lower the death rate.
Another factor, not so positive, but which works in favor of Brazilians, is the large number of people who have already been infected by the virus. “The immunological memory is large and is still recent. It seems to me that, if we manage to keep it, we will have a better time than in other countries”, points out Stanislau.
In Germany and the United Kingdom, for example, the percentage of the population with complete vaccination is 68% and 68.7%, respectively. They do not have, however, such a large portion of citizens with natural immunity, caused by the direct infection of the virus —unlike Brazilians.
Even though they are going through an intense phase of the health crisis, in the assessment of Gonzalo Vecina, sanitary doctor and former president of Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency), it is likely that the most developed countries, such as the European ones, will not lose as many lives as Brazil has already lost. “They don’t have the social inequality that we do, which is a very important component of the virus’s lethality.”
The moment in Brazil is better, but we are not without risk
As studies show, after a while, immunity —whether natural or induced by the vaccine— tends to decline. Therefore, to keep the risk of a new wave low, the infectious disease specialist points out, those who have not yet taken the second dose need to urgently complete the vaccination schedule, and adherence to the booster dose also needs to be high.
In addition, according to him, the ideal would be to vaccinate children as soon as possible, since it is an environment where the virus finds more space to circulate. “We can’t think thatOK that’s okay and that we’re going to stay in this situation forever. In a few months, if we neglect it, we could experience a serious problem”, he says,
The behavior that the population will adopt in the coming months, assess both specialists interviewed, will determine whether or not to maintain the phase that Brazil is going through today. “The protective role of masks cannot be disregarded, especially with large events approaching. Until Carnival we can have an even higher vaccination coverage range, but I still think it’s a very high risk to participate in celebrations, especially street Carnival, where it doesn’t it is possible to control that only vaccinated people enter”, explains Vecina.
In addition, another factor that poses risk is the arrival of a new variant, especially with the possibility of international travel for Brazilians and the reception of foreigners —possibly not vaccinated— here. “If a new strain appears as lethal as the Gama, for example, the game will reset and start all over again”, assesses the sanitarist.
If a new wave comes, will we be better prepared?
In general, it is expected that, based on the experience acquired during the several months of intense health crisis, Brazil will do better during a new wave. “New protocols and promising drugs, such as molnupiravir and paxlovid (not yet approved in Brazil, but already accepted by foreign agencies) could help with early treatment. One downside is that we still don’t know what prices they would have in Brazil, but in other countries, we’ve already seen that they are expensive,” says Vecina.