Brazil: Concerns rise as more young people die of COVID-19

Brazil has beaten yet another tragic record, with 3,650 deaths on Friday.

Video Transcript

MONICA YANAKIEW: An unusual holiday in Rio de Janeiro. With empty streets and a crowded sidewalk, protesters angry at the latest government edict. The mayors of Rio in Sao Paulo have decreed an extended holiday and shut down Brazil's two major cities, keeping only essential services open. And hundreds took to the streets, saying they want their jobs back. Informal workers say they're being punished for mistakes made by others.

QUITERIA BARBOSA: [SPEAKING PORTUGUESE]

INTERPRETER: We represent 50,000 beach vendors who are left with no income. The lack of vaccines and public policies to encourage the use of masks and control clandestine parties have led to this chaos, and we're the ones paying the price.

MONICA YANAKIEW: More than 300,000 Brazilians have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic began a year ago. Hospitals across the country are running out of rooms, medicine, and oxygen for the growing number of patients. And what's more worrisome, the virus and it's more infectious variants are killing young people.

Since January, the number of Brazilians in their 30s infected by COVID-19 has increased by 500%. Infections among those in their 40s have risen 600%.

Doctors in this intensive care unit say they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients below 60 years of age.

ANGELO BORETO: [SPEAKING PORTUGUESE]

INTERPRETER: This tendency began in February during Carnival. The festivities were canceled, but people partied anyway, especially young people who are now getting sick and spreading infections to others.

MONICA YANAKIEW: Just this month, a huge Open Air Festival was held in the [INAUDIBLE] of Rio de Janeiro.

[SINGING IN PORTUGUESE]

And the police had to break up this clandestine party in a middle class neighborhood. On Friday, the federal government announced that Brazil was developing two national vaccines. One of them, the Butanvac, is ready for clinical trials.

After a slow start, there is hope Brazil may jump start its inoculation program, targeting not just the old, but increasingly, the young as well. Monica Yanakiew, Al Jazeera, Rio de Janeiro.