Earlier this month, thousands of protesters gathered in major cities across Brazil, calling for the President’s impeachment amid worsening economic conditions, rising unemployment, and hunger in the Covid-wracked country.Bolsonaro, who is up for reelection next year, told world leaders at the United Nations’ General Assembly last month that while he regrets “all of the deaths that took place in Brazil and worldwide,” the toll of unemployment must be balanced against that of the coronavirus. Deaths have risen sharply in Brazil, which in June passed the 500,000 mark.
But despite Friday’s tragic milestone, there are now signs that infections in Brazil are finally ebbing, as the country ramps up vaccinations after a slow start, Reuters reports. More than 70% of Brazilians have received a first dose, compared to 65% in the United States.
Brazil also appears to have been spared the worst of the Delta variant so far, with registered deaths and cases falling despite the arrival of the more contagious strain.
“The rejection rate of vaccines is really low, it makes other countries jealous,” said Alexandre Naime Barbosa, head of epidemiology at Sao Paulo State University. “That’s really important for Brazil to contain the pandemic.”
Over the past year, Bolsonaro has frequently raged against municipal and state-level lockdown orders in Brazil, even during the grimmest moments of the pandemic, when hospitals filled to capacity and whole cities ran out of oxygen.
Vaccines offer hope
Reuters, Caitlin Hu, Jonny Hallam and Helen Regan contributed to this report