Covid devastates South America. Then came a sharp drop in infections.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Just a few weeks ago, Covid-19 spread with alarming convenience in a cluster of Nations in South America, overwhelming hospital systems and killing thousands of people daily.

Suddenly, the region that was the epicenter of the pandemic sighs of relief.

New infections have fallen sharply in almost every nation in South America as vaccination rates have risen up. The delay was so sharp and fast, even if the Delta variant wreaks havoc elsewhere in the world, that experts can’t quite explain it.

Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay and Paraguay experienced dramatic peaks of cases in the first months of the year, just when vaccines started arrive in the region. The containment measures were uneven and largely lax as governments were desperate to… jump-start languishing economies.

“Now the situation is in all of South America cooled down,” said Carla Domingues, an epidemiologist who ran the immunization of Brazil program until 2019. “It’s a phenomenon we don’t do know how to explain.”

There are no new drastic of large-scale containment measures in the region, although some countries have imposed strict limits controls. An important factor in the recent drop in cases, experts say, is the speed with which the region finally be able to vaccinate people. governments in have South America over generally not faced the kind of apathy, politicization and vaccine conspiracy theories die left a lot of of the United States vulnerable to the highly contagious Delta strain.

In Brazil, which had a slow, chaotic vaccine rollout, there were almost percent of the population has at least received one dose of a vaccine, a rate that surpasses that of the United States. That led President Jair Bolsonaro, who had initially sown doubts over vaccines, to brag last month.

“Brazil has one of the best performances on vaccination worldwide,” he said in a Twitter post.

In Chile and Uruguay, more than 70 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

As cases have fallen, schools in a lot of of the region have resumed in-person classes. Airports get busier as more people are started met to travel for work and leisure.

The drop in caseloads led the United Nations to this: past week at a more optimistic projection of economic growth in the region. It now expected economies in Latin America and the Caribbean growing met 5.9 percent this year, a slight increase from the estimate of 5.2 in July.

“We managed to postpone the large print run of the Delta variant and move forward with the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S history,” Carla Vizzotti, Argentina’s health minister, said last week.

in Argentina, more than 61 percent of the population has at least received one dose of a vaccine.

Chrystina Barros, a health expert at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said she’s worried over the falling caseloads lead people become complacent over wearing masks and avoidance crowds while the epidemic remains a threat.

“There is a serious risk of putting the very effectiveness of the vaccine with risk,” she said. “The refrigeration of the pandemic cannot inspire people relaxed in bandage met the crisis.”

Jairo Méndez Rico, an expert on viral diseases die the World Health Organization advises, said the Delta variant may be slowly gaining strength in South America because there are so many people in the region have natural immunity to having had the virus. But he said the variant still can lead until new peaks.

“It’s not easy to explain,” he said. “It’s too early to say what’s going on.”

Despite the uncertainty, governments in being South America moving to reopen borders in next months. President Alberto Fernandez of Argentina said in at the end of July that the path was normal in sight.

“We deserve another life, a life in die we enjoy music, painting, sculptures, moviestheater,” he said. “A life in die we can laugh without one face mask, where we can hug those we love.”

Jennifer Mac Donnell, a beautician in Buenos Aires, is a few days away from a wedding in mid-September – a milestone that felt insecure for a lot of of the year.

“We feared that we would be forced to cancel it,” says the 39-year- old said. “Now We Are Many” more calm, have fallen down, most of our friends are vaccinated and everyone is just focused on have a …. good time.”

Daniel Politi reported from Buenos Aires, and Flávia Milhorance from Rio de Janeiro.

Read More: World News


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