- The Brazilian government has underreported the number of COVID-19 cases as much as 12 times, a study by the Brazilian Center for Health Operations and Intelligence found.
- There has been a struggle between the country's president, who wants to see a return to normalcy, and state and local officials who want stricter mitigation efforts, Reuters reported.
- If the number of cases is 12 times higher than the state-reported figure, there would be more than 280,000 COVID-19 cases in Brazil.
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Cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Brazil are likely 12 times higher than the totals reported by government officials, a study released on Monday found.
The study was conducted by the Center for Health Operations and Intelligence, which is comprised of a group of Brazilian universities and institutes, according to Reuters. According to the study, just 8% of cases of the novel coronavirus in the country are being reported by the government.
The Center for Health Operations and Intelligence had so far had an accurate record of predicting the virus in Brazil, Reuters said.
The number was determined when researchers compared the ratio of the nation's reported COVID-19 cases that have resulted in deaths through April 10 with the expected death rate from the World Health Organization, the report said.
There are at least 23,955 cases of COVID-19 and 1,361 resulting deaths, according to official data from Brazil's health ministry and analyzed by Johns Hopkins University. If the number of cases is 12 times higher, there would be more than 280,000 cases in the nation.
The study found the government was testing and reporting only the most serious cases of COVID-19. The organization pointed to issues with testing in the country as part of the reason for the described underreporting, according to the report.
Luiz Henrique Mandetta, Brazil's minister of health, has acknowledged the country has had issues distributing tests, which he attributed to the size of the country. He agreed that testing in the country needed to improve, Reuters said.
According to the study, the number of hospitalizations for severe respiratory symptoms has been more than three times higher than typical for this time of year. Just 12% of those hospitalizations have been linked to COVID-19.
As of April 9, Brazil had around 127,000 suspected — not confirmed – COVID-19 cases and had administered less than 63,000 tests, according to official figures. More than 93,000 tests were still being processed for results as of Monday, according to the report.
According to Reuters, there have been divisions between President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed risks of COVID-19, and the health minister and state and local leaders, who have called for stricter measures to limit the spread of the virus.
Brazil's president had in March said — without evidence — that Brazilians may have a natural immunity to the coronavirus.