Data issues mask new Covid rise in Brazil

Brazilians have stopped taking preventive measures against Covid. Photo: F. de Jesus/Shutterstock
Brazilians have stopped taking preventive measures against Covid. Photo: F. de Jesus/Shutterstock

The monitoring of the Covid spread in Brazil was drastically affected by a lack of data from state officials last week. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry’s official coronavirus dashboard has not been properly updated since last Wednesday — and the government has not offered any explanation.

The problems with data gathering coincide with a rise in infections in the country. Between April 30 and June 3, the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases jumped from 14,300 to over 30,000. 

On Sunday, 23 of Brazil’s 27 states did not submit updated Covid death numbers. Per Conass, the national council of state health secretaries, the numbers for most of the country were not included due to “issues in accessing databases.”

In addition to affecting the analysis of the current pandemic situation, hiccups in how data is updated will lead to a distorted increase in the average of new cases and deaths once numbers are updated all at once, hopefully in the coming days. 

The percentage of positive coronavirus tests in Brazilian private labs reached 29 percent in the week ending May 21 — up from 10 percent a month prior. Labs say the trend can be explained by the fact that people are only seeking PCR tests after showing symptoms of coronavirus infection. In São Paulo, Covid-related hospitalizations rose by 86 percent.

Experts believe that a lack of data from self-testing kits might be hiding even bigger numbers.

The most recent InfoGripe report by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a federally-run biological institute, shows a worsening Covid scenario in the country. The coronavirus is responsible for nearly 60 percent of severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) in the country.

This uptick is mainly linked to the abandonment of preventive measures such as mask use in closed spaces, which multiple states are once again recommending — but not enforcing. Polls show that the rate of Brazilians worried about the coronavirus is the lowest since April 2020.

Per the Health Ministry, 46 million adults have yet to take a Covid booster shot.