Covid is no longer Brazil’s leading cause of death. But it still stings

covid Empty street in Londrina, during the early stages of the pandemic. Photo: Isaac Fontana/Shutterstock
Empty street in Londrina, during the early stages of the pandemic. Photo: Isaac Fontana/Shutterstock

A survey carried out in 7,600 civil registry offices across Brazil shows that 1.2 million people died in the country between January and October 2022 — a figure 14 percent higher than during the same period in 2019.

The study, by an association of notaries’ offices, suggests that the effects of the pandemic can still be felt by people who got Covid and suffer from long forms of the disease. 

Deaths from respiratory diseases had the biggest bump of the year. While Covid deaths are down 88 percent from last year, pneumonia-related deaths jumped by 33.6 percent. Deaths related to severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) dropped by 43 percent from last year, but remain five times higher than those recorded in 2019.

As vaccination advanced throughout 2021 and 2022, Covid stopped being the deadliest disease in the country.

“The numbers show, almost in real time, a picture of what is happening to the Brazilian population. Although there is a decrease in Covid deaths, we have noticed an increase in deaths from other diseases that still may be related to it,” says Gustavo Renato Fiscarelli, from the association of notaries’ offices.

Brazil ranks 15th in the world in terms of deaths per million people, although official tallies were iffy at several points during the pandemic, as The Brazilian Report has extensively shown. In absolute numbers, only the U.S. has recorded more deaths than Brazil — 1 million against 688,000.

The effects of the Brazilian government’s botched pandemic response, which included going against all scientific consensus and delaying the purchase of vaccines, continue to be felt by Brazilian society.

Brazil’s seven-day rolling average of new daily Covid cases has quadrupled over the past 14 days to over 11,500. Deaths, however, have remained stable. At least 15 states have gone back to recommending the use of face masks in closed spaces, although they haven’t issued mandates. Mask requirements are back, however, are in multiple federal universities.