more than 20,000 dead in Brazil, young people in the front line

The number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has doubled in just eleven days in Brazil, according to figures from the Ministry of Health. The proportion of young adults dying is particularly high, especially among the poorest, who find it more difficult to respect social distance rules.

A new milestone is reached in Brazil. The threshold for 20,000 deaths linked to Covid-19 was crossed on Friday 22 May. Over the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health has registered a record increase of 1,188 deaths.

Among the people who have given up on the new coronavirus, young Brazilians are especially numerous. The proportion in the 1960s, which was 19% in early April, rose to 31% this week. In Spain and Italy, this proportion does not exceed 5%, according to the latest official reports.

A young population

This difference is first explained by the age pyramid: only 13.6% of Brazilians are over 60, compared to 25% in Spain and 28% in Italy. But other factors come in.

“As our population is younger, it is normal for the proportion of deaths to be higher among those under the age of 60, but it is also because these young adults less respect prison sentences,” explains AFP Mauro Sanchez, epidemiologist at the University of Brazil.

The containment rate, measured from the signal from mobile phones, has been steadily declining for a month, while right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, coronasceptic, continues to question the restrictive measures taken by state governors.

20-39 year olds are most affected

The Ministry of Health does not provide information on the age range of those infected. The official figures for confirmed cases are largely underestimated, with specialists estimating that they are at least fifteen times lower than reality.

According to estimates from the Covid-19 Brazil Research College, the country has more than 3.6 million infected, compared to about 310,000 according to the latest official report.

According to these group forecasts, the two most polluted age groups are 20-29 years and 30-39 years, with more than 580,000 cases each, twice as many as 60-69 years.

“We know that there are different forms of coronavirus circulating around the world, but no study to date has shown that it is more virulent in young people in Brazil,” said Patricia Canto, pulmonologist at the National School of Public Health of Fiocruz, the reference research institute.

“They leave their house because they have no choice”

“But the numbers are worrying because they show that many young people do not take the necessary precautions and are exposed to the virus, while also risking being seriously ill from the disease,” she continues.

“Although most young infected adults do not need to be hospitalized, health care is all the more saturated because they do not just get older,” adds Mauricio Sanchez.

For this researcher, “most of those who do not respect prison leave their homes because they have no choice”, a reference to the millions of poor workers whose incomes depend solely on the informal sector, as salespeople.

No massive support for the most vulnerable

“If the government had introduced a mass support policy for the most vulnerable, maybe people would stay more at home,” he said.

A contribution of 600 reais [environ 100 euros]planned for informal workers. But many of them thought it was difficult to register and the crowds gathered to meet long queues for several hours outside the branches of the public bank Caixa.

Brazil is currently experiencing a marked acceleration of its curve, with a total of 20,047 deaths and 310,087 confirmed cases, figures that would be far below reality, according to researchers. The death toll has doubled in just eleven days in Brazil, according to ministry figures.

With AFP