Number of the week

Number of the week: Covid-19 gets deadlier among young patients

In Araraquara, one of Brazil's main coronavirus hotbeds, the death tally among young patients has jumped tenfold in 2021

10 times more young coronavirus victims
Severe Covid-19 patient is hospitalized. Photo: Pedro Guerreiro/AGPA

Welcome to “Number of the Week,” where we choose a single figure that helps understand what is going on in Brazil. This week’s number is:

10 times more young coronavirus victims

The agricultural city of Araraquara, in the state of São Paulo, became one of Brazil’s major coronavirus hotbeds this year. Due to a massive surge of infections and deaths, local authorities imposed a 60-hour lockdown, during which time no-one is allowed on the street without proper justification. Meanwhile, the Army conducted an operation to sanitize the city’s public spaces.

According to Araraquara Mayor Edinho Silva, the new Amazon variant is spreading in the city and changing the demographics of the coronavirus’ victims. While only one person under 40 years of age died of Covid-19 in Araraquara last year, the death tally among young patients has jumped tenfold in 2021. On March 4, health authorities reported that the city has intubated its first two patients under-30

Deadlier among the young. In the city of Manaus — where this new variant was first spotted — the latest wave of coronavirus infections has proven to be much stronger on young patients, even those without pre-existing conditions. In January, 40 percent of deaths related to the pandemic were of people below 60 years old.

More contagious. According to tests by University of São Paulo researchers, 93 percent of new Araraquara patients were infected by the Amazon variant. Preliminary studies suggest this new variant could be twice as contagious as previous versions and infect patients who previously caught Covid-19.

Six is a crowd. As the state of São Paulo re-enters quarantine mode, Araraquara City Hall issued a decree banning all events with over five people.

Yes, but … Other cities in the state do not seem inclined to enforce the new rules. Messages exchanged between mayors in a WhatsApp group — and revealed by news website UOL — show that fears of rebellion from business owners has deterred them from fully implementing restrictions.

  • In São Paulo, truck drivers staged a protest on Friday, raising fears in the federal government that truckers could unite and organize a nationwide stoppage. In 2018, an 11-day strike led to fuel and food shortages in multiple regions and caused the Brazilian economy to tank. In a pandemic scenario, the consequences could be catastrophic.