As the coronavirus spread worsens, authorities around the world scramble to get their hands on ventilators — equipment that takes over the breathing process when lungs are no longer capable. For severe Covid-19 patients, these machines offer the best chance of survival.
In Brazil, though every municipality has at least one ventilator, nearly 50 percent of all machines are located in state capitals, according to Health Ministry data. Five cities (Brasília, Recife, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro) concentrate 26 percent of all machines, while 861 municipalities have only one. Whereas Brasilia has one respirator for every 1,420 citizens, the rate in states such as Piauí and Maranhão drops to one for 7,000 people. The northern state of Amapá has the worst supply in the country, with one respirator for every 9,122 residents.
On Thursday, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta announced the government aims to procure 17,000 new ventilators. “We have already anticipated a possible purchase of 8,000 units,” said Mr. Mandetta. Though only 5 percent of all Covid-19 cases require the use of ventilators, a study by Argentine pulmonologist Gustavo Zabert — president of the Latin American Thoracic Society (ALAT) — shows that Brazil will suffer a shortage in only three days should the number of infections mount to 2,300 per 1 million inhabitants.