Brazil follows an analogous progression of COVID-19 when compared to USA, signifying that Brazil could be the next global epicenter of COVID-19.
Just as it has in countries such as the United States, the virus is also mixing toxically with Brazil’s ugliest underlying conditions—most significantly, its status as one of the most unequal countries on the planet. If COVID-19 initially seemed like an egalitarian affliction, upending the lives of everyone, everywhere, it has with time revealed itself to be a plague that often hitches a ride on social inequities. It disproportionately torments poor people who don’t have the luxury to social distance, to adhere to lock downs, in some cases to even wash their hands, and who are more prone to the health risks associated with the virus. The cruel irony is that in several countries, including Brazil, the wealthy first brought the disease there, before retreating into self-isolation as it began ravaging the poor. In Brazil, “the first wave of people infected were better off, with high purchasing power, who traveled abroad and returned with the virus,” Maria Laura Canineu, the Brazil director for Human Rights Watch, told me. “They were mostly white people who have access to tests and to private hospital services. But more recently, we’ve seen increasing numbers of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths among black people in the same manner that you guys have seen in the U.S.” Some families live with 10 or 12 people in a single room, which makes social-distancing impossible. Many work in Brazil’s large informal sector (as, say, construction workers or street vendors) and must leave home to earn money, presenting them with an awful choice: