What you need to know about the new Manaus coronavirus variant

The severity of the health collapse in Manaus can be put down to the predominance of a new, highly contagious variant of the coronavirus

manaus variant coronavirus
Health workers scramble to save patients. Photo: Ingrid Anne/FP

The world looked on in horror last week as the Amazonian city of Manaus faced a second collapse of its local health system under the variant of a second wave of coronavirus contagion. With an extreme shortage of oxygen cylinders in the city’s hospitals, intensive care patients had to be manually ventilated by already overworked medical staff. Many Covid-19 sufferers died from suffocation in what was the lowest point of Brazil’s coronavirus epidemic to date.

Besides a series of factors — including insufficient planning and national coordination and the loosening of social distancing in the city — experts...

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