Tragedy foretold in Manaus a harbinger of chaos in Brazil

Given the flaws in the management of the pandemic, it is essential to remove Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello and hold the federal government accountable

Conectas has been following with apprehension the collapse of the health system in the city of Manaus, which has suffered from an exponential rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, a shortage of hospital beds and a depletion of oxygen supplies. According to CDMH (Committee on Human Rights and Minorities) of the Lower House of Congress, on the evening of Thursday, January 14, nineteen people died in the city due to lack of oxygen.

Other reports circulating on social media and in the press reveal the desperation of health professionals who had to take turns pumping manual resuscitators in order to keep patients alive.

This week, the Minister of Health, General Eduardo Pazuello, was in Manaus to examine the state of the pandemic in the city. One of the minister’s plans was to force local authorities to adopt early treatment for Covid-19. This protocol recommends the use of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, among others, to prevent a worsening of the infection. These drugs, however, have no proven benefit for the disease and have been discouraged by medical organizations, such as the Brazilian Infectiology Association. Neither do international authorities such as the WHO (World Health Organization) recommend any such protocol against the disease.

Recognized for being a specialist in logistics, how was General Pazuello unable to predict the shortage of oxygen in Manaus and plan measures to prevent further deaths? This is the question that is not being answered.

For months, experts warned of the risks of the end-of-year holiday season and the relaxation of social isolation measures. Bolsonaro and his followers, however, have been defying local authorities, encouraging people to assemble, ridiculing the use of masks, minimizing the risks of the pandemic and recommending medications with no proven benefits against Covid-19.

The chaos that has descended on Manaus is a harbinger of what may happen in the coming weeks in other parts of the country and, despite the pandemic lasting for more than ten months, the federal government has been unable to present a serious, science-based plan to reduce its impact and save lives.

There can be no other conclusion but that the federal government, especially the President of the Republic and his Minister of Health, are directly responsible for the collapse of the health system and for the lost lives, demonstrating their inability to lead the country. Against this backdrop, there is no other option other than call for the immediate removal of General Eduardo Pazuello and a radical shift in the denialist position of the Jair Bolsonaro government.

We extend our deepest sympathy to the victims, families and people of Amazonas and we will spare no effort in demanding responsible attitudes from health authorities. As the authorities responsible for overseeing the response of the Brazilian State to the pandemic, both Minister Pazuello and President Bolsonaro must be held accountable for the crimes against humanity and official misconduct committed by the federal government during the pandemic.

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