YPSILANTI, Michigan — In recent times, nothing has been as life-altering as the emergence of SARS-COV-2 and the resulting pandemic. This Pandemic has affected every aspect of human life from the ability to travel to obtaining or even continuing employment. Additionally, it has resulted in the loss of millions of lives. Despite this, there is hope. Vaccinations pose the chance to create herd immunity and help the world emerge through this crisis. However, despite the approval and creation of multiple vaccines, the distribution of these vaccines and even the willingness to obtain vaccinations pose a severe threat to this herd immunity. This is reflected in the vaccination rollout in Brazil where measures have not been as effective as they could be.
The Importance of Vaccinations
Vaccinations are paramount to the ability to push countries through the COVID-19 pandemic. These medical tools are thought to help limit the severity of the disease and subsequent hospitalizations and deaths. The Borgen Project interviewed Dr. Robert Beck, a Bronson Hospital Pediatric critical care physician, a sitting member on Infection Prevention Committee and Chair of the Critical Care and Pharmacy Committees.
Dr. Beck states that “The technology used to make them is relatively new, only 10-15 years old. Pfizer is an MRNA, not a killed virus. Your immune system recognizes the spike protein… hones in on that virus and that virus can’t effectively invade you… you can still carry it, but you can’t get sick from it.”
However, in Brazil, resources to assist in the fight against COVID-19 have been denied and even impede. High-ranking government officials within Brazil have long attested that COVID-19 is not a threatening disease. Moreover, those same officials, such as President Bolsanaro, have advocated for methods that are unproven when it comes to treating the disease.
Furthermore, President Bolsanaro’s has attempted to convince the public that hydroxychloroquine treats COVID-19. This trend continues in regard to the vaccination rollout in Brazil despite possessing one of the world’s foremost free public health systems, which has regularly been able to disperse many vaccines to a large number of people.
However, in regard to COVID-19, government infrastructure has served as a pervasive boon to successful COVID-19 vaccinations. The Brazilian government was given three vaccination proposals, one of which provided them with 70 million vaccinations. In February 2020, Brazil was stated to purchase 20 million more from China.
Accessibility of Vaccines in Brazil
The unfortunate reality is that there are not any proven ways to treat COVID-19 at this time. Vaccinations are the best option for prevention.
Dr. Beck added, “what happens in Manus [a city in Brazil], is just horrendous,… they aren’t denying it, they just didn’t have the resources,… they were throwing dead bodies out onto the street.” Holdridge added, “By denying them access to a lifesaving vaccine you are neglecting your citizens, and that’s not okay”.
The vaccination rollout in Brazil is commencing but at a rather slow rate. Shipment errors have delayed attempts to procure vaccinations. Additionally, the reliance on the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, which though effective, experienced an approval delayed due to prolonged vaccination trials. Many members of the public may be wary about trusting the vaccine due to previous misinformation about the virus.
Working to Improve the Situation
Many non-governmental organizations have done a lot of hard work to help the Brazillian people. For instance, the Paraisópolis quarantine center is a partnership between NGOs, community associations and individual doctors that worked to provide virus prevention and treatment to 13 million people dealing with COVID-19 in favelas. Also, the private sector within Brazil itself has accounted for more than $1 billion in funding to aid in the fight against COVID-19.
As of March 2021, deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil are already far less than what they were months ago. In addition, the vaccine is still being dispersed with plans for many more shipments to Brazil on the way. Moreover, the Brazilian government is retracting many of the false treatments previously recommended. As a result, this has helped to prevent ineffective treatments and reallocated efforts towards effective COVID-19 treatments.
There is also the emergence of new vaccines to consider. For example, in January 2021, the Astra-Zeneca vaccine was the only vaccine given emergency use in Brazil. Now, China’s CoronaVac vaccine is now approved. Brazil has already ordered 120 million doses of this vaccine to aid in the distribution towards its people.
A Better Future
There is still much more that needs to be done in order to help Brazil get past its cataclysmic situation with COVID-19. Even with the allocation of these resources, it will not take away from the immense sickness, pain and death that the people of Brazil have experienced. However, there is progress. Brazil is a strong country technologically and healthwise. If the vaccination rollout in Brazil occurs as it has in the past, much more progress is possible.
– Jacob Hurwitz