state of COVID and treatments in Brazil

The current state of COVID and treatments in Brazil


You may have read about a recent controversy, where some Italian doctors have claimed that the coronavirus seems to becoming weaker. This news was criticized by the World Health Organization, who stated that there is no evidence of that.  But today, we discuss if there is any reason for optimism.

The Brazilian data shows that the number of new cases and deaths are increasing. So you might think that in Brazil, there is no reason for optimism. However, Brazil was delayed compared with China, North America, and Europe as to when the epidemic became established, and it is likely that in Brazil, any signs of optimism will start later as well.  

Remdesivir costly?

Many people have hailed the newly “repurposed” antiviral drug Remdesivir as a cause for optimism. Last week our post was titled “Is Remdesivir a cure for COVID-19?”. Our conclusion was that it is not a cure, but that it can help some people. We received a number of responses from readers basically saying that Remdesivir is extremely expensive, and will only be available for the rich. 

It is true that Remdesivir is expensive, beyond the financial reach of most people. However, the company that manufactures the drug—Gilead Sciences, Inc.—is donating millions of doses of the drug, including to Latin America. They say that once the donated doses are gone, that they will not price the drug too high. That remains to be seen, but there is probably a better, and much cheaper, alternative.

Available in Brazil

In that same post we talked about a combination of 3 drugs (Kaletra, ribavirina e interferon beta-1b) that has not received as much attention as Remesdivir, but likely is BETTER than Remesdivir as a COVID treatment. As we mentioned, these 3 drugs are all available as generics. We don’t know when Remdesivir will be commonly available in Brazil, but already, what likely is a better treatment (the combination) is now available in Brazil. 

 More reason for optimism

It remains to be seen if the virus is weakening, but a cause for optimism is that more people are surviving now if they become severely ill with COVID. Again, much of this data is from the Northern Hemisphere, but the gains in treatment outcomes will also come to Brazil. 

In a research paper that is yet to be published, Italian researchers have shown a 40% reduction in just the past month, of people hospitalized with COVID, The researchers noted a reduction in the death rate for all ages; for example, in those above age 80, the death rate fell from 36% to 16%. 

Treatments have improved

Even without a cure, doctors have learned a lot, and quickly, how to deal better with hospitalized COVID patients. That is why the death rate has decreased. Doctors are dealing better with a complication of COVID called “cytokine storm”, in which the body’s immune system mounts an overwhelming immune response that ends up attacking the patient’s lungs and other organs, often leading to death. One drug (available in Brazil) that is controlling many cases of cytokine storm is called Actemra (tocilizumab). This is another “repurposed” drug for COVID, as currently it is mostly used in severe rheumatoid arthritis. 

Other treatment improvements—all available in Brazil—include using anticoagulants to prevent the blood clots that were killing many patients. And doctors worldwide have decreased the use of intubation for breathing assistance. They are using higher dose oxygen via masks instead, which seems to work as well as intubation, with a much lower complication rate. Also, putting patients on their stomach for a few hours per day while in the ICU (called “prone ventilation”), costs nothing, but is helping more peoples’ lungs recover. 


So even here in Brazil, there should be optimism. The cases have not peaked here, and people still need to be using masks, washing hands, and practicing social distancing. But recovery rates will improve here in Brazil as they have elsewhere in the world. 

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

Could Remdesivir be the cure for COVID-19?

How to make a COVID-19 home kit

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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