In the developing world, the coronavirus is killing far more young people
Fifteen percent of the dead in Brazil were younger than 50. That’s more than 10 times the percentage in Italy or Spain.
— a far greater share of the population ends up being exposed to the virus.The virus then spreads through a population that’s less resilient. People in the developing world grapple not only with the diseases that have long been associated with it — malaria, dengue, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS — but increasingly with those more closely associated with wealthier countries. Rates of diabetes, obesity and hypertension are surging. But treatment for many such illnesses is lacking.
ADADWhen newly infected coronavirus patients already weakened by preexisting conditions seek treatment, they find hospital systems that are overwhelmed and unequipped to handle the deluge of patients.“It all points to social economic status and poverty,” Gray Molina said. The positive benefits associated with the developing world — such as younger populations — are being “wiped out.”
“As this plays out,” he said, “we will see a balancing of the scales.”‘My house is empty’When the coronavirus hit Brazil, it was a disease of the rich. Brought in by travelers to the United States and Europe, the disease circulated primarily among the wealthy and connected. The Brazilian senate leader caught it. So did President Jair Bolsonaro’s press secretary. The Rio de Janeiro Country Club along Ipanema beach, one of Brazil’s most exclusive clubs, suffered a devastating outbreak.
Domingos Alves, a data scientist with the University of São Paulo, has been tracking the virus here since those early weeks. The pattern in Brazil at first mirrored that in the developed world: The dead were almost exclusively elderly. Coronavirus patients were flocking to private hospitals, and anyone who needed a hospital bed received one.
ADADBut by early April, as the virus began seeping into the favelas and slums of São Paulo and Rio, and the public hospital system started buckling, Alves noticed a sharp shift in the data. Younger people were being hospitalized at higher rates. People younger than 49 were dying. The disease was reaching lower into the demographic pyramid. The victim profile was changing.
Public health experts: Coronavirus could overwhelm the developing world“Our country is made up of various smaller countries,” Alves said. “When you walk through Rio de Janeiro, you go through places that have the characteristics of Switzerland to places more like the Congo, all in the same city.”
Cátia Simone de Lima Passos, 48, has lived her entire life in a part of the city no one would confuse for Switzerland. Every day, she and her daughter, Agatha, 25, would ride crowded buses through northern Rio to the medical clinic where they worked in the favela of Maré. Lima said they did everything they could to stay safe. They doused their hands in sanitizer. They wore masks. Her asthmatic daughter stayed home from work for weeks.
ADADBut they both got covid-19 and were hospitalized. Lima, after 10 days in the hospital, survived. Her daughter didn’t. Now Lima spends her days isolated in her house, alone and unable to grieve with loved ones, trying to understand why a disease that everyone said would kill only the elderly had taken her daughter but spared her.
The unexpected cruelty of it, she said. It’s more than she can bear.“My house is empty,” she said. “We were partners in life.”Confusion in the populationBolsonaro, a global leader in minimizing the disease, repeats a mantra: Only the elderly are at risk. So the best policy is to isolate only them. He has called it “vertical isolation.”
AD“What has happened in the world has shown that the people at risk are older than 60,” he declared in a national address in late March. “So why close the schools?” Read more: The Washington Post »
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