RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil on Monday kicked off its nationwide coronavirus vaccination campaign, providing a glimmer of hope in a nation where political infighting, a strained health care system and lax precautions have given the virus free rein.
But the rollout is expected to be painfully slow, even as Brazil battles two worrisome new variants of the virus, at least one of which is more contagious and could be contributing to the country’s recent surge of cases.
The government is scrambling to buy more vaccine after months of taking a lackadaisical approach, as President Jair Bolsonaro argued that scientists and the media were hyping the seriousness of a virus that has killed more than 210,000 Brazilians. The country now has just six million doses of vaccine on hand for a nation of 213 million people.
The potential menace of the new variants became clear last week as patients in the northern state of Amazonas asphyxiated to death because hospitals ran out of oxygen amid a sharp rise in critically ill patients. Prosecutors investigating the calamity said at least 16 patients had died.
promoting a useless treatment, refusing to wear a mask, sabotaging other officials’ lockdown
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