Coronavirus Death Projections in Brazil Rise from 90,000 to 125,000 By August

As the U.S. moves closer to becoming the first country in the world to report 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, researchers this week predicted Brazil could surpass that same grim mark by early August.

In a report published Monday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), researchers projected Brazil's death total would reach 125,833 by August 4. The report marks a significant rise in the institute's estimates for Brazil, which earlier this month suggested the country's COVID-19 death count would remain below 100,000 in August.

In a news release announcing the IHME's projections, Director Dr. Christopher Murray encouraged Brazil to take action to prevent the death toll from climbing even higher than the institute's current estimates.

"Brazil must follow the lead of Wuhan, China, as well as Italy, Spain and New York by enforcing mandates and measures to gain control of a fast-moving epidemic and reduce transmission of the coronavirus," Murray said in the release.

Coronavirus in Brazil
Nurses and doctors rescue a woman in critical conditions after being infected by COVID-19 from the airplane that took her from Parintins city to Manaus on May 25 2020 in Manaus, Brazil. According to recent projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Brazil's COVID-19 death toll could reach 125,000 by early August. Andre Coelho/Getty

On May 12, the IHME predicted the country's death toll would reach about 90,000 by August 4. At the time, Brazil had reported 12,404 deaths, according to data compiled by Worldometer. That number nearly doubled two weeks later as Brazil reported a total of 22,013 COVID-19 deaths to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.

According to a virus tracker created by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Brazil on Tuesday became the country with the second greatest number of confirmed cases. Even so, Brazil's more than 374,000 cases still fell far behind the 1.6 million cases confirmed by Tuesday in the U.S.

In response to Brazil's rising number of cases, the White House on Sunday announced travel restrictions to prevent foreign nationals from entering the U.S. after visiting Brazil in the previous 14 days. The restrictions, which began Tuesday, do not apply to U.S. citizens or their immediate family members.

As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Brazil climbed throughout May, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized by global leaders for continuing to say the virus was not a significant threat for the country. In addition to appearing in viral videos that showed the president ignoring social distancing guidelines, Bolsonaro has also been a strong proponent of using hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 prevention method, despite the WHO declaring the vaccine, which is traditionally used to safeguard against malaria, posed safety concerns. In the U.S., President Donald Trump has also encouraged the use of the drug for precautionary measures and said last week he was taking it himself.

While the IHME said its projections factor in precautionary measures like social distancing and temporary lockdowns, researchers warned their analysis of COVID-19 in Brazil only captured 19 of the country's 26 states. All of the states included had reported at least 50 deaths, researchers said in the release. Acknowledging that the country's death toll could rise above the predicted 125,833 after a possible peak in mid-July, the IHME said the number of deaths possible ranged from 68,311 on the low end to a high of 221,078.

With the country's predicted peak still about two months away, it was unknown if new measures to mitigate the virus' spread would have an impact on the IHME's latest projections. Newsweek reached out to the IHME for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Regardless of whether restrictions in Brazil tighten or not, the country's COVID-19 outlook was dim as each region's case counts continued rising.

"IHME is forecasting the death toll in Brazil will continue to climb, there will be a shortage of critical hospital resources, and the peak of deaths may not occur until mid-July," Murray said in the release.