Brazil should continue to have covid-19 outbreaks until next year and already vulnerable populations will be the most impacted, especially those living in areas of high population density. These are the conclusions of a study that brought together scientists from different institutions to outline possible scenarios for the pandemic in the country.
Released this month, the analysis points out that as long as there is circulation of the virus, a low rate of fully vaccinated people and little attention to prevention measures, it will not be possible to fully control the spread. The time of immunity guaranteed by vaccines also appears as an influencing factor.
“It is very important to tell people that the virus will continue circulating in the environment”, warns researcher Patrícia Magalhães, one of the authors of the work (listen to the full interview on the audio player below the title of this article).
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Science has already observed that the protection afforded by vaccines diminishes over time. This happens mainly in people with more compromised immunity, such as the elderly and elderly people over 80 years old and immunosuppressed and immunosuppressed.
There are more points that make Brazil still very vulnerable to the uncontrolled pandemic. States and municipalities have announced relaxation of protection measures, but the country has less than 30% of the population fully vaccinated.
“It’s very little for a policy that looks like a policy that 100% of people are vaccinated and that everything is fine”, emphasizes Patrícia Magalhães. Without immediate actions by the government, the scenario will be even worse for the outskirts of large urban centers.
“In fact, even with continuous vaccination, we are going to have these new outbreaks, but these outbreaks are going to be worse and much more severe in environments that are more vulnerable to covid. These are places where the virus is more easily spread, so at the moment when immunity drops, he can already do the damage”, explains the researcher.
Projections and alerts
Authored by the Covid-19 Action initiative, the study calculates the frequency of the most critical outbreaks, based on two hypothetical scenarios: 12-month and 18-month vaccine protection. It is noteworthy that the data were collected without taking into account the presence of the delta variant in Brazil.
In the scenario where vaccine-induced immunity lasts a year, a possible new wave of infections and deaths is projected 400 days after the start of vaccination. In other words, even with immunization, the country runs the risk of facing a new health crisis in March/April of next year.
The simulation takes into account an index of 27% of the population practicing social isolation, a level observed in the pre-pandemic. The results on the total number of people who could become infected and die vary according to population density, local living conditions, social and territorial indicators.
To measure these components, the Covid-19 Action created the so-called Covid-19 Protection Index (IPC), which takes into account three pillars: infrastructure, human indicators and access to health.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, it was very evident that covid is not a democratic disease. The peripheral regions were more affected. The index’s motivation comes from trying to list indicators that define what makes a region more or less vulnerable to the dispersion of the coronavirus .
In more populated regions (8100 inhab/km²) and with a high CPI, such as São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, the final percentage of people infected by the coronavirus would reach 41.7% and the accumulated death rate would reach 0.20% of the population. years after the start of vaccination.
In places with a lower protection index and the same population density mentioned above, contamination could reach more than 46% of citizens and deaths 0.19% in the same period.
Even worse results are observed in the projections that take into account a population density of 10,200 inhabitants/km² and little protection against covid. In these cases, those infected can exceed 71% of the population and fatal cases would be above 0.29%.
In the hypothesis of vaccine immunity lasting 18 months, the prospects are less worse, but still do not point to control of the pandemic. In densely populated cities with a high CPI there are 36.24% chances of being contaminated and deaths accumulated in 0.14%.
In view of the negative perspectives, Patrícia Magalhães says that the vaccine “is not the end of the story”. According to the researcher, immunization is a first step – fundamental and important – but giving up other preventive measures is a “gamble” by governments that puts lives at risk.
“What we are getting from the public authorities is the message that everything is fine. In fact, what we need from the public authorities is mechanisms to support the population. It will be inevitable that we return to moments of outbreak, the public authorities will having to react to that”, demands the researcher.
“It is important that we have a structure to support the most vulnerable regions and epidemiological surveillance, to know when this outbreak will arrive and to anticipate it”, he concludes.
Patrícia’s notes reaffirm the conclusions of the study by the collective Ação Covid-19. If, on the one hand, the research indicates a very negative scenario, on the other, it emphasizes that there is always time to implement effective measures.
“It will never be too late for us to seek the improvement of health policies for the population, first with the objective of mitigating additional damage from the pandemic and, subsequently, of containing the coronavirus permanently”, points out an excerpt of the research
Edition: Anelize Moreira