Without enough vaccines, Brazil is heading for the third wave of COVID-19

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Luísa Eugênio Farias, 22 years old, a second-year medical student at UNICESUMAR, in Maringá, Brazil and Ms. Esther Serman Castro e Silva, a third-year medical student at UFF (Universidade Federal Fluminense), in Niterói, Brazil. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Brazil has the second highest number of infections and deaths in the world, only behind the USA. In total, the country has registered more than 14,167 confirmed cases and 383,502 deaths since the pandemic began over a year ago. On January 17th, Brazil began to vaccinate its citizens. Today, there are 24,196,145 people with at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This number is still small considering that more than 212 million people live in Brazil. The first year of the pandemic taught us that vaccines are the best strategy to fight the virus.

In 1973, the National Immunization Program – PNI was formulated, as determined by the Ministry of Health, with the objective of coordinating immunization actions. PNI has extensive experience in organizing mass vaccination campaigns, for example the great success in the Polio Vaccination campaigns at the beginning in 1980, eradicating the disease in 1989. Thus, achieving high vaccine coverage and its objective is to protect the health of the population. When high vaccination coverage is achieved, in addition to reducing cases of disease in the target population established for vaccination, it contributes to reduce the circulation of infectious agents in the communities, positively impacting the health of those who will not be vaccinated, once they become indirectly protected (collective or herd immunity). Therefore, the importance of vaccination is not just about individual protection, but also the prevention of mass spread of COVID-19 that can lead to death or a difficult recovery process.

In Brazil, there are currently several problems that prevent the population’s wide vaccination against covid-19. Among them, low amounts of immunizers, sharing fake news discrediting vaccines, lack of planning, problems in the collection of information and flaws in the Ministry of Health system. Since last year, the country has known that immunization is the solution to end the pandemic, but the lack of government investment also reflects in the current situation. In other words, necessary actions to save lives have not been taken. The combination of numbers of new cases on the rise, an irregular vaccination campaign and with few doses culminate in a probable third wave of COVID-19.

Strong coordination by the ministry of health and international cooperation will be required between researchers, funders, public health agencies and governments, in order to ensure that available vaccines can be manufactured in sufficient quantities and provided equitably to all affected areas of Brazil. Hopefully, in a few months the health crisis will be under control.


About the authors

Luísa Eugênio Farias, 22 years old, is a second-year medical student at UNICESUMAR, in Maringá, Brazil. She is a member of the Academic League of Family and Community Medicine and of the Maringaense Academic League of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery. Luísa is affiliated and LEO-D (Local Exchange Officer) to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

Esther Serman Castro e Silva, 23 years old, is a third-year medical student at UFF (Universidade Federal Fluminense), in Niterói, Brazil. She is a director of The Telemedicine and Innovation League and a member of Academic Radiology League.

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