A flu epidemic has killed over 1,700 people in Brazil between January and February. Influenza lethality hit unprecedented levels in the summer season, already exceeding the total annual deaths from the disease in almost every year since 1996 – except for 2009 and 2016.
In January and February 2021, by contrast, there were only 12 deaths from the flu.
The so-called “Darwin” strain of the H3N2 influenza virus (named after the Australian city in which it was first identified) spread throughout Brazil at the end of last year and was identified as being responsible for the outlying numbers.
Experts fear that the end of mask mandates, combined with the arrival of winter in the southern hemisphere, plus a drop in Brazilians’ immunity, could lead to a massive influenza epidemic in the country.