Brazil’s COVID outbreak could lead to ‘more lethal variants’

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A leading scientist has warned that Brazil’s snowballing COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to undo the progress made in the fight against the global pandemic.

Miguel Nicolelis, a Duke University neuroscientist who is tracking the crisis, called on the international community to pressure the Brazilian government to more aggressively contain the new variant, known as P.1., which is rapidly spreading there, the Guardian reported.

“The world must vehemently speak out over the risks Brazil is posing to the fight against the pandemic,” said Nicolelis, who spent most of last year in São Paulo.

“What’s the point in sorting the pandemic out in Europe or the United States, if Brazil continues to be a breeding ground for this virus?”

Nicolelis warned that failure to prevent the spread of the virus could allow it to continue to mutate into more dangerous variants.

“If you allow the virus to proliferate at the levels it is currently proliferating here, you open the door to the occurrence of new mutations and the appearance of even more lethal variants,” he said.

The scientist also slammed the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly played down the crisis, warning that it carries international implications.

“The policies that he is failing to put into practice jeopardize the fight against the pandemic in the entire planet,” he said.

Brazil currently has the world’s second-highest COVID-19 death toll with more than 257,000 casualties, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Workers in Manaus, Brazil bury someone who died of the coronavirus at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery.
Workers in Manaus, Brazil, bury Abilio Ribeiro, who died of coronavirus, at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery.
AP/Edmar Barros

The country weathered its deadliest week yet with an average of nearly 1,200 virus-related casualties per day, according to health ministry data.

Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 10.6 million confirmed cases in the country, data shows.

With Post wires

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