Brazil stops releasing Covid death totals

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By Mark Ellis –

Placing casket in cemetary in Brazil

With Brazil’s deaths from Covid-19 surging to the third highest in the world, the government has stopped publishing the total infections and deaths.

Some experts believe Brazil’s statistics have been defective or manipulated, so it may never be possible to understand the true nature of the pandemic.

At last count, officials said there have been 34,000 deaths from Covid and 615,000 infections, placing it second behind the U.S., according to AP.

On June 5th, authorities took down a website that had showed daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths. On June 6th the cumulative numbers of infections were no longer there. The government website now reports only the numbers for the previous 24 hours.

Rows of graves in Brazil

Allies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have charged that some states sent falsified data to the Health Ministry, implying they were overstating the numbers.

Critics say Bolsonaro has underplayed the serious nature of the pandemic and opposed shutdowns, in line with some who say the cure’s economic fallout is worse than the disease.

Health researchers have charged that irregularities with Brazilian statistics were making it impossible to understand the reality of the situation.

“It is very difficult to make predictions that you think are reliable,” Fabio Mendes, an adjunct professor at the University of Brasilia, who studies coronavirus statistics, told AP. “We know the numbers are bad.”

Academics reviewing death certificates collected by the government have discovered baffling fluctuations in monthly deaths in recent years and confusing inconsistencies between states.

For example, researchers have found it almost impossible to analyze excess deaths in Rio or Amazonas, two of the Brazilian states hit hardest by the coronavirus.

One bulletin published by the president’s press office refers to patients in hospitals and intensive care units “recovering,” even though a significant number eventually died of Covid.

“We are becoming an international joke in terms of public health,” Domingos Alves, an associate professor of social medicine at the University of Sao Paulo told AP. “Deaths cannot be hidden by decree.”