| 6 December 2022, Tuesday |

COVID-19 deaths in Latin America surpass 1 mln as outbreak worsens

The death toll from COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean passed 1 million people on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, with the pandemic worsening in the part of the world with the highest per capita death rate.

From the dusty highlands of Bolivia to the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo, the pandemic has swamped underfunded healthcare systems after spreading fast across nations where many people survive hand-to-mouth and have been unable to enter lockdown.

In Peru, among the hardest hit nations in the region, COVID-19 patients have died in crowded hospital corridors of the capital Lima. Deep in the Amazon jungles of Brazil, many residents of the city of Manaus have died at home with no oxygen to fill damaged lungs, after supplies ran out there this year.

South America is the only region where new infections are increasing rapidly per capita in Europe, Asia and North America, and flat in Africa, according to our World of Data. According to our report Even though India is facing one of the worst outbreaks of the pandemic in the world at present.

On average in May, 31% of the COVID-19 deaths in the world have been in Latin America and the Caribbean – home to just 8.4% of the global population.

Doctors and epidemiologists say the coronavirus pandemic took unprepared governments by surprise last year and its impact has been worsened by leaders who downplayed its gravity and failed to secure timely vaccine supplies.

The top eight countries registering the most COVID-19 deaths per capita over the past week were all in Latin America.

“Instead of preparing for the pandemic, we minimized the disease, saying the tropical heat would deactivate the virus,” said Dr. Francisco Moreno Sanchez, head of the COVID-19 program at one of Mexico’s main hospitals and a critic of the government’s vaccination plan.

“Unfortunately, we are among the most-affected regions, where the handling of the pandemic has been the most mistaken, and now we are suffering the consequences,” the epidemiologist told Reuters.


With the death toll steadily mounting, grave diggers in several countries have been forced to expand cemeteries with row after row of new tombs. In a break with the region’s predominantly Catholic traditional culture, dead are often buried with few or no relatives there to say goodbye.

Most of the deaths – more than 446,000 – have occurred in Brazil, which became a coronavirus epicenter this year with the second-deadliest outbreak outside the United States, though it appears likely to be surpassed soon by India.

The health ministry said on Friday, which pushed the total Latin American to over one million COVID-19 deaths, Brazil recorded 2 215 new deaths in 24 hours from COVID-19.

A Parliamentary Committee is investigating Brazilian far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, vaccine sceptic and lock-off opponent, for failing to plan a national COVID-19 drive, and for failing to buy a vaccine on time.

With respect to confirmed COVID-19 cases, Brazil remains the third most heavily affected country in the world behind only America and India. In the region, Mexico and Colombia have the highest death toll, which together accounted for around 74 percent of all deaths in Latin America.

The daily death toll in South America had slowed in May to 3,872, from an average of 4,558 people in April, according to a Reuters analysis. But cases are on the rise again and deaths are a lagging indicator, typically rising weeks after a surge in new infections.

Vaccinations in South America lag behind much of the world. In South America, just 15% of people have received at least one dose compared with 28% in Europe and 34% in North America. Only Asia and Africa are lower at 5% and 1%, respectively, according to Our World in Data through May 19.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has criticized “glaring gaps” in access to COVID-19 vaccines in Latin America, compared to the United States, which has had the lion’s share of the 400 million doses administered so far in the Americas.

“Only 3% of Latin Americans have fully received COVID-19 vaccination. More vaccines are urgently needed, “Carissa Etienne, director of the PAHO, told reporters this week.

In most countries, supply of vaccines was slow and inoculation programs were disordered in certain countries.

The pediatric operator Kurt Paulsen, who runs a vaccination facility in Bolivia said: “Vaccination has lacked strategic planning.” “They first brought many vaccines without any information to show people with what they are injected with.”

  • Reuters