The country where a quarter of all the world's COVID deaths are happening

Rebecca Speare-Cole
Sons of Veronica Ferreira, 73, who passed away due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), attend her burial at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, December 31, 2020. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sons of Veronica Ferreira, 73, who passed away due to the coronavirus disease attend her burial at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil. (Reuters)

One in four coronavirus deaths worldwide are currently happening in just one country. 

A brutal new wave of COVID-19 has hit Brazil in recent weeks with the discovery of several new variants.

The P.1 variant, which is more infectious, transmissible and pathogenic has been sweeping through Latin America's largest nation.

But scientists also warned last week that a new variant could be emerging in the inland city of Belo Horizonte.

Read: When is the next easing of lockdown restrictions - and what will it involve?

The Federal University of Minas Gerais said in a statement that two samples taken in the city included a previously unseen set of 18 mutations.

The surge has pushed the official death toll since the pandemic began to more than 354,000 deaths and 13.5 million cases, according to Brazilian health ministry figures released on Monday.

Healthcare workers treat a patient among others suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a field hospital set up at Dell'Antonia sports gym in Santo Andre, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli
Healthcare workers treat a COVID-19 patient at a field hospital set up at Dell'Antonia sports gym in Santo Andre, near Sao Paulo. (Reuters)

The figures also revealed that the country had recorded 35,785 additional confirmed cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, along with 1,480 deaths. 

Brazil’s seven-day rolling average of daily deaths is 3,123.57 as of 12 April, according to Our World in Data.

This is almost as many deaths as the whole of continental Europe combined, which currently has a seven-day rolling average of 3,677.43. 

Meanwhile, Brazil is also facing the grim projection that more than 590,000 people will have died from COVID-19 by 1 August, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Watch: Brazil's COVID-19 death toll could outpace U.S.

Many have pointed at president Jair Bolsonaro’s approach to the pandemic as instrumental in the country’s journey to becoming one of the worst-hit in the world. 

Bolsonaro has been severely criticised for going against the medical consensus around COVID and downplaying the severity of the virus over the last year  

He has opposed lockdowns and only recently embraced vaccines as a solution.

Bolsonaro is currently facing an investigation by a senate special committee into how his government has dealt with the pandemic. 

Experts have warned that the Brazilian variant could hamper the UK’s road to recovery. 

An aerial view shows gravediggers wearing protective suits carrying a coffin during burial of a person who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Vila Formosa cemetery, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 23, 2021. Picture taken March 23, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli
An aerial view shows gravediggers wearing protective suits carrying a coffin during burial of a person who died from COVID-19 at Vila Formosa cemetery, in Sao Paulo. (Reuters)

It has already been detected in the UK although it is not thought to be widespread. 

Lawrence Young, professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School, previously told the British Medical Journal that the P1 variant could pose a threat to people who had been infected with other variants of the virus.

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“Recent reports from Manaus in Brazil, where the P1 variant is fuelling a surge in infections, suggest that this variant is responsible for reinfecting people who were previously infected with a different variant of the virus,” he said. 

“That’s why it’s even more important to do everything to stop the spread of this virus and all other variants including strict border controls and an efficient test, trace, and isolate system.”

Watch: COVID-19: Brazilian P1 variant may spread more easily and could evade immunity