As long as the population is not massively vaccinated, we will not have a chance to substantially bring down the number of infected and, consequently, the number of deaths. The new Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, unlike his predecessor, is committed to getting vaccines and the truth is that the number of people vaccinated daily is rising.
Brazil is able to vaccinate more than one million people a day, the problem is that we do not have vaccines for that. Just look at the number of cities that suspend vaccination because they have no more doses to be applied to leave no doubt about the source of the problem.
For the picture to be absolutely clear, it is sufficient to observe the vaccine statistics. Nine out of ten vaccinees are being immunized with Coronavac, the vaccine produced by the Butantan Institute. The rest are from Fiocruz. The other vaccines have not yet arrived and, according to the signed contracts, they should only be delivered in significant quantities during the second semester. However, there is a clear change in the behavior of the federal government and the Minister of Health has been working to speed up this schedule, whether trying to anticipate deliveries or trying to negotiate with the US government a “loan” of vaccines that are not yet authorized for use there that are authorized to be applied in Brazil, as is the case with AstraZeneca vaccines.
It is too early to know the reaction of the President of the Republic, whether he will allow the Minister to move on or whether he will dismiss him, as he did with the first two occupants of the portfolio. In good Portuguese, what the Minister of Health is doing is to undo and disdain everything that was said and done by the Ministry of Health during the Pazuello administration. And this is very good for Brazil and for our population, but it is not so good for the image of the president.
In any case, reaching the peak means that the disease must at least stop and, in a second moment, with the mass arrival of vaccines, it must regress and allow the country to return to thinking about reorganizing society and the economy.
Reaching the peak is also important for the national health system. It means that it will not get worse. Both SUS and the private system are under extreme pressure, operating at the limit of their capacity, if not above it, with all the inconveniences of this situation. The most dramatic picture is the deaths that occurred while people were waiting for an ICU bed.
But that is not all. There is much more, starting with the physical and mental exhaustion of the teams on the front lines; the lack of essential supplies for the care of victims of the covid-19; for the suspension of care for other pathologies that have not miraculously left, but that cannot be attended to by the hospital network, overburdened by the coronavirus pandemic.
A bed in the ICU costs more than R $ 2,000 per day for SUS and close to R $ 5,000 for private health plans. With more or less ten thousand ICU patients in the State of São Paulo, in an account of 80% for SUS and 20% for private plans, we are talking about more than R $ 26 million / day, or R $ 780 million per month , or R $ 9.4 billion per year. To give an idea of the size of the number, the Ministry of Health’s budget for 2021 does not reach R $ 40 billion.
With the certainty that the numbers will not grow, that the tendency is to decrease and that this can be accelerated with the mass vaccination, the Brazilian can start to breathe a little more relieved during the second semester. And SUS and private health plans, for the first time in more than a year, will have time to catch their breath.
* PARTNER OF PENTEADO MENDONÇA AND CHAR ADVOCACY AND SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE PAULISTA DE LETRAS ACADEMY
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