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Aerial view of graves of Covid-19 victims at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Amazon state, Brazil, on April 15 Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil has now surpassed 400,000 deaths from coronavirus. The country’s health ministry reported more than 3,000 new Covid-19 deaths Thursday, raising the total number of deaths recorded during the pandemic to 401,186.

Brazil is the second country worldwide to officially pass that grim milestone, following the United States, which is nearing 575,000 deaths.

The South American country’s death toll rapidly increased after the Christmas and New Year holidays – when people often travel during school and company summer breaks – turning 2021 into the most severe period in Brazil’s outbreak since the novel coronavirus reached the country in March 2020.

“With sadness all around, Brazil today registers 400,000 victims of Covid-19,” Carlos Lula, president of the Nacional Council of Health Secretaries, said in a statement.

“The number reflects the pain of families that lost parents, grandparents, children and siblings in a fast, violent and often lonely way. It also reflects mismanagement and the lack of centralized coordination at the federal level.”

As the Covid-19 death toll has risen in Brazil, where far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has resisted lockdowns and overseen an often slow and bumpy vaccine rollout, young people are making up a greater share of deaths as older Brazilians are among the few to have secured a vaccine. 

Fiocruz, a Brazilian public health research institute, recently reported that patients between the ages of 20 to 29 had the most pronounced increase in Covid-19 deaths among all adults between early January and mid-April this year.

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Data from the first full epidemiological week of January compared to the second week of April showed that deaths among Covid-19 patients in that age group grew 1,081%.

In the meantime, Brazil’s vaccination campaign is running at a slow pace, with about 6% of its 210 million people fully vaccinated. Several state capitals halted vaccinations this week due to a shortage of Coronavac, one of four approved vaccines in Brazil.

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