What happened was left behind. After two years interrupted by the tragedy of a virus that claimed the lives of more than 5 million people around the world, 2022 is responsible for fulfilling the latent desire for the pandemic to come to an end. Since March 2020, Brazil has buried at least 618,000 people infected by the new coronavirus. Number of a sad past that came to be faced with the advance of vaccination. Today, there are 143 million Brazilians immunized with two doses or a single dose, which is equivalent to 67.19% protected. To get an idea of vaccine effectiveness, on December 30, 2020, the average number of deaths in the country was 668. On December 30, 2021, the number dropped to 114.
Data is even more comfortable when enlarged. In Minas Gerais, where 56,000 people died from COVID-19, more than 15 million are fully immunized (71.68% of the state’s population). In Belo Horizonte, the city shows an example: there are 86.4% of those vaccinated with the 2nd and single dose. Percentage that tends to grow to prevent more deaths, such as the 7,000 lives lost to disease in the capital.
In order to understand where we are at and what the perspectives of the epidemiological scenario are for this year that begins today, the Estado de Minas report asked specialists who have dealt exhaustively with COVID-19 throughout this period: is it possible to have hope in 2022?
The main positive response is no secret: mass vaccination. The more vaccinated, the more restricted the circulation of the virus and, consequently, fewer people will be hospitalized and killed by respiratory disease – as evidenced by data since the beginning of the immunization campaign. On the other hand, doctors and scientists point out that hope can be stopped by a political factor: the lack of goodwill on the part of the federal government to make available and encourage immunizations for the entire Brazilian population. In this way, it is in each one’s hands – or rather, in each one’s arms – the responsibility to make 2022 a smoother and healthier year.
Infectologist member of the COVID-19 Coping Committee in Belo Horizonte
“Without a doubt, the availability of different vaccines against COVID-19 made all the difference in the evolution of the pandemic. Certainly vaccines will still advance a lot in the coming years and we will indeed have a great possibility of control with these inputs. In addition to vaccines, we had drugs that work in the initial phase of the disease and some others that work in the later stages, in more severe patients. In other words, we have adequate prevention methods. These were fantastic advances. In addition to the proof that non-pharmacological methods (mask, cleaning, distancing) are highly effective. It is this great package that gives us hope for 2022. May these treatment and prevention strategies be increasingly accessible to all people in the different regions of this country. Certainly all these strategies throughout this period, so we do have a very good prospect. For now, we have to maintain all the care we know as effective, social distancing, avoiding crowding, using good quality masks and hand hygiene, which gives us hope for 2022.”
Epidemiologist and professor of medicine at the University of So Paulo (USP)
“The biggest advance we had was to produce several effective vaccines in the short term, including clinical trials. The second was to quickly evaluate the best treatments for the disease. In general, learning about the need for collective action in preventing and treating the disease. The negative was the little use of basic tools of epidemiology in public health, in western countries, such as case detection and search for contacts of index cases. Two thousand and twenty-two could be calmer because of mass immunization, but in Brazil the Bolsonaro government will further dynamit what exists as a social welfare state, including the Single Health System (SUS).”
Infectologist, researcher at Fundao Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) and professor at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (UFMS)
“There is hope in 2022 because we will continue to make progress in vaccination. Despite all the communication difficulties of the federal government, there is great pressure to offer the booster doses. At the same time, the government will have no alternative but to purchase vaccines for the children. We will probably have vaccines that can be offered for all ages. With the advance of vaccination and the increase in immunized people, we will have more and more control, especially of the severe forms of the disease. We will reduce and prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Chaos will remain in the past, a past that was difficult, painful, but thanks to the vaccine we have hopes for a much better 2022 with this mass adhesion of the population. our greatest asset in the COVID fight. We have already managed to prevent the impact of Delta and if we make further progress in vaccination, we will also prevent the impact of micron here in the country precisely because we are managing to vaccinate a large part of the population.”
GONZALO VECINA NETO
Health doctor, professor at the Faculty of Public Health at USP and at the professional master’s degree at Fundao Getulio Vargas (FGV-SP)
“Insofar as a pandemic is the aggression of an infectious agent in society, which demands that of the State, because the society is governed by the State, I think that 2022 has no prospect of being a year of hope. I have hopes for 2023 depending on what happens in October 2022. Or if the President of the Chamber, Lira, wakes up to the correction in his drawer, which will set the impeachment process for that president underway. While this president who denies the vaccine, who denies the use of a mask, who denies the existence of a pandemic, we are not going to have governability over the pandemic. There’s no hope. I dont think we vamosre going to have a smoother, healthier 2022 under these conditions. Of course, it may be that eventually the micron variant is the last stage of the virus and the pandemic will end, but not because we won the pandemic, not because society through actions coordinated by the State… it wasn’t because of that, it was because nature wanted it. ”
Pulmonologist and researcher at the National School of Public Health (Ensp/Fiocruz)
“Without a doubt, we can hope for a better 2022, at least in countries where vaccination is taking place in an adequate manner. Most likely we will need a 4th dose next year, we will also be able to vaccinate the children, which is what brings us a lot of encouragement because despite not developing so severe forms, children are transmitters to their elders. expected that there will be a control of the pandemic. It must be a year with different personal habits. It is not accepted that we live without a mask on public transport, planes, ships… all of this will still require a mask for some time to come. But it is my hope, based on the best scientific principles, that we can bring the pandemic under control. Furthermore, the presence of new variants, which are more transmissible but less lethal, undoubtedly shows, in an almost paradoxical way, according to the principles of biology, that it is possible that these variants mean the end of the pandemic. They are pathogens that already have many mutations, which necessarily reveals that the original virus is disappearing, which is expected in all respiratory transmitted viruses.”
Microbiologist, associate researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICB-USP), at the Vaccine Development Laboratory (LDV) and president of the Questo de Ciencia Institute
“It was a year of great advances from the standpoint of science in the pandemic. Vaccines brought the hope of a smoother and healthier 2022. Even with the arrival of a variant that is more contagious, we see that vaccinated people are protected. Even when they become infected and become ill, they do not need hospitalization in the same way as unvaccinated people. Having vaccines and vaccines widely distributed around the world, which is a challenge, gives us hope for a more peaceful 2022 where COVID-19 really starts to be reduced to a flu, but for that we need to vaccinate the whole world and not just the rich countries.”