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Brazil Champion in Swine Flu Deaths

September 2nd, 2009

Brazil’s Health Ministry informed that 557 people have now died from swine flu in that country surpassing the US in the number of fatal victims of the AH1N1 virus and taking the first place from the United States.

Information updated by the states’ health departments put the number of deaths  at least 581. While champion in the number of fatal victims, the 0.29% mortality rate in Brazil is lower than that in Argentina (1.08%), Chile (0.75) and Costa Rica (0.67%), which are leaders in this category. With a population of 190 million, Brazil ranks 7th in the world for mortality due to the new flu. The United States ranks 13th.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) put Brazil in first place for the number of deaths followed by the United States ((522 deaths), Argentina (439) and Mexico (179).

According to Brazil’s Health Ministry. there are now 5,206 cases of patients whose disease was confirmed and now are being treated for it. Brazil has earmarked US$ 1.1 billion to buy swine flu vaccine, but the product will only be available next year in the country.

The situation might become much graver because thousands of suspect cases are still being investigated.

The new scenario may lead Brazil to skip the annual common flu vaccination of senior citizens, which normally starts in April. It all will depend on the severity of the flu during the northern hemisphere winter and on how their population react to the vaccination against swine flu.

From the US$ 1.1 billion set aside to deal with the pandemic, US$ 556 will be used to buy vaccines. The amount is enough to acquire 74 million doses, 33 million of which would be made by the Brazilian Butantã Institute, in São Paulo. The rest of the money will be used to get Tamiflu, medical equipment and diagnostic gear.

Half of the people who died from swine flu in Brazil had some other disease according to the first profile of the victims produced by the European Center for Disease and Prevention Control, using data from 28 countries. 51% of those who died were between the ages of 20 and 49. The most vulnerable are people who have diabetes or are obese.

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