Public defenders take government to the Supreme Court over oxygen supplies

oxygen supplies
Oxygen supplies being taken to Santarém, Pará. Photo: Pedro Guerreiro/AGPA

Brazil’s Public Defenders’ Office has filed a class-action lawsuit at the Supreme Court over oxygen supplies in hospitals. As Brasília correspondent Renato Alves reported earlier this month, new coronavirus variants and all-time records of new cases and deaths have taken oxygen demands to their absolute peak — and suppliers simply cannot keep up.

Public defenders want the government to issue a plan over the next ten days to ensure that states and municipalities will receive enough oxygen. 

Yesterday, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga called for the “rational use” of Brazil’s dwindling oxygen supplies — claiming before the Senate that health teams may be using them indiscriminately.

In multiple states, waiting lists for intensive care beds are in the hundreds — and medicines necessary for intubating patients are also running low. 

With hospitals operating over capacity for more than a month, the state of Santa Catarina became the first in Brazil to adopt an official protocol for doctors to decide which Covid-19 patients they should prioritize for giving an ICU bed.

The state has recorded 233 deaths of patients waiting for care this year alone.