Two of the countries which were being used as examples of alternative responses to the covid-19 crisis are now showing the terrible results of their governmental and social decisions.
Brazil’s leader, Jair Bolsonaro, has been a critic of shutdowns and has repeatedly insisted that healthy people need not fear the virus. He has participated in anti-lockdown demonstrations, demanded that local leaders relax restrictions, and attacked those who promote a cautious approach as simply pursuing a political agenda. This has resulted in a growing backlash against the Brazilian President.
Brazil has now crossed an official mark of 18,000 dead due to covid-19 and its related complications, is showing 10,000 new daily cases on a regular basis, and has developing hot spots throughout the country. Their response is one familiar to Americans, and the response now advocated by President Bolsonaro. The Folha de Sao Paolo reports that their health minister released new guidelines for coronavirus patients on Thursday, with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to be used in combination with azithromycin for every person who is suspected of having the virus.
Meanwhile, Sweden, which attempted to generate “herd immunity” by instituting measures designed to slow, not stop, the spread of the disease has been receiving data regarding their decisions. Their death toll is low compared to other countries, but their population is also significantly lower. More than 3,800 Swedes have died due to the virus, in a country whose population is a little over 10 million. Sweden’s per capita death rate exceeds that of the United States, the UK, Italy, Spain, or France.
The official state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, has since said that he believes a little more than 20% of the population of Stockholm – the area of the country where the majority of cases have occurred – has contracted the virus, but the evidence puts the number at a little over 7%. The results of recent testing demonstrates that “herd immunity” is far from present in the country. 7.3% of people chosen from a random sample in Stockholm were shown to have developed antibodies from exposure due to the virus.
Medical researchers have yet to determine if the presence of antibodies indicates an immunity to the disease, although preliminary data supports that hypothesis. They have also not established how long antibodies last in the body, or, if they do confer a level of resistance or immunity, what quantities are required for that biological response.