On March 11 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. On May 22, the World Health Organization declared South America the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, led by Brazil. In theory, Brazil was uniquely equipped to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic. It has a free and universal health system, it has one of largest community-based primary care delivery programs that serves 74·8% of the population, it could learn from the mistakes and success that other countries hit by COVID-19 made, and it has a history of responding to health threats by implementing governmental action and by generating high-quality scientific evidence. Yet, currently Brazil has the third-highest case and second-highest death tolls worldwide. This talk will discuss Brazil’s regional context, challenges and opportunities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, governmental and community responses, pandemic outcomes, and the way forward.
Dr. Marcia Castro is Andelot Professor of Demography, and chair of the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, faculty member of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and co-director of the Brazil Studies Program of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS). Her research focuses on the development and use of multidisciplinary approaches to identify the determinants of infectious disease transmission in different ecological settings that can inform improved or new current control policies. She has expertise in geospatial methods, population dynamics, and mortality. Castro has projects on COVDI-19, dengue, Zika virus, chikungunya, tuberculosis, child development, and climate change in the Brazilian Amazon. She earned her PhD in Demography from Princeton University.