Background

That 2020 has been a harsh year is a now universal dictum, but it’s one that rings particularly true for Brazil.

The country’s COVID-19 outbreak has been among the worst in Latin America. The pandemic death toll currently stands at 166,669, and nearly six million cases have been recorded since the outbreak first started – the third highest count in the world behind only India and the United States, and nearly triple the amount of the fourth-highest France. In one bright spot, Brazil has yet to experience a pronounced second wave of the virus and transmission rates dipped below zero in October. Yet this might now be changing as the now-familiar combination of a rising case load and lockdown fatigue threaten to unleash a new wave of transmissions. According to government data, cases have increased by 68% over the past two weeks, and deaths by 53%. And given persistent shortfalls in testing capacity – which is around one-fifth of the United States’ – the real figures are likely much higher.