Experts Say Brazil's Worsening Outbreak is a Global Threat

Experts fear that Brazil's lax attitude and variant spread might endanger other nations.

Video Transcript

BEN SCHAMISSO: As much of the world sees COVID-19 cases falling or leveling off, Brazil's outbreak is only getting worse. Hospitals are reaching maximum capacity, death are at a record high, and a more contagious variant is likely reinfecting people who already caught the virus.

GUSTAVO RIBEIRO: The level of desperation in Brazil is growing to unseen levels.

BEN SCHAMISSO: Meanwhile, Brazil's right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, continues to downplay the severity of the virus and the efficiency of masks while attacking governors who impose restrictions.

HELOISA PAIT: I think he's celebrating the spread of the virus. The more confusion there is, the better for him.

BEN SCHAMISSO: A quick vaccination drive would be one way to tame the outbreak, but Bolsonaro has failed to secure enough doses, even suggesting that the Pfizer vaccine could turn people into crocodiles and refusing to get to one himself.

GUSTAVO RIBEIRO: This country has the ability of vaccinating over one million people per day. It has done so in previous vaccination efforts. So now we are vaccinating around 160,000 a day, which is almost 10 times less than our capacity.

BEN SCHAMISSO: Millions of street vendors have no choice but to continue exposing themselves to COVID-19 because a federal program helping vulnerable populations recently expired. And taking cues from their president, many Brazilians have been ignoring social distancing rules.

GUSTAVO RIBEIRO: They partied for New Year's as if nothing was happening in the world. That same happened in Carnival, even though most Brazilian cities banned public celebrations. There were still a lot of illegal parties going on.

BEN SCHAMISSO: Now, scientists are sounding the alarm about Brazil's pandemic mismanagement becoming a global threat as the more contagious variant is starting to show up in other countries, including in the US.

HELOISA PAIT: Frankly, I think we need international pressure. I think we need to-- I think the world should look at us and say, listen, there's something really wrong going there. How can we help?

BEN SCHAMISSO: Ben Schamisso, Newsy.