Brazil Passes Half a Million COVID-19 Deaths Amid Chinese Vaccine Push

By Reuters
June 21, 2021 Updated: June 21, 2021

SAO PAULO—Brazil’s death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 500,000 on June 19, as the country relies overwhelmingly on a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech.

Singapore Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health Kenneth Mak said on June 18 that the Sinovac Biotech vaccine presented a significant risk of “vaccine breakthrough.” Mak pointed to international evidence reporting that many who had taken the China-made vaccine later became infected with COVID-19.

Brazil has registered 500,800 deaths from 17,883,750 confirmed cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, according to Health Ministry data, the worst official death toll outside the United States. Over the past week, Brazil has averaged 2,000 deaths per day.

“It’s not a problem associated with Pfizer. This is actually a problem associated with the Sinovac vaccine, and in other countries, they are now starting to think about booster vaccinations, even six months out from an original vaccination for some of these vaccines as well,” Mak said.

Brazilian researchers had also said in January that they were concerned about the “disappointing 50.4 percent efficacy” of the Sinovac vaccine.

Experts see the toll in Brazil, already the highest in Latin America, climbing far higher.

Only 11 percent of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated after manufacturing delays, and epidemiologists believe that, with winter arriving in the southern hemisphere and new variants of the coronavirus circulating, deaths will continue to mount even if immunizations gain steam.

“I think we are going to reach 700,000 or 800,000 deaths before we get to see the effects of vaccination,” Gonzalo Vecina, former head of Brazilian health regulator Anvisa, said, predicting a near-term acceleration in fatalities.

“We are experiencing the arrival of these new variants, and the Indian variant will send us for a loop.”

Evidence from neighboring Chile, which has also relied overwhelming on a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, suggests it may be months before mass immunization will effectively curb transmission.

Nearly half of Chileans have been vaccinated, but their capital Santiago just went back into lockdown as cases again surged to near peak levels.

Raphael Guimaraes, a researcher at Brazilian biomedical center Fiocruz, said delays in the Sinovac vaccination program in Latin America’s most populous nation meant that its full effects wouldn’t be felt until September or later.

Guimaraes warned that Brazil could revisit scenes from the worst of its March–April peak, when the country averaged 3,000 deaths per day.

“We are still in an extremely critical situation, with very high transmission rates and hospital bed occupancy that is still critical in many places,” he said.

This week, new confirmed cases in Brazil accelerated to more than 70,000 per day on average, edging past India for the most cases in the world.

By Eduardo Simões. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.