Late in February, when the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Brazil and Argentina, the most affected demographics consisted of high-income families that brought the virus into the country after vacationing in Europe and Asia. As editor Euan Marshall explained at the time, Covid-19 entered Brazil as a disease of the jet-set elite.
But as Brazil tops the mark of 3 million confirmed cases — as well as reaching over 100,000 deaths — and with Argentina posting record numbers of new daily infections, the demographics of the pandemic have dramatically shifted. The contagion curve has spiked in lower-income areas, where social isolation is more challenging and often impossible. Experts believe that this trend has everything to do with the stabilization of new daily cases and deaths at high levels.
However, structural problems in regards to access to housing and public services — such as clean water and basic sanitation — drives home the point that Latin America’s brutal inequality hinders sanitary control strategies.
We take Brazil and Argentina — South America’s two largest nations — as a case study.