Brazil coronavirus cases surge to single-day record

New coronavirus infections in Brazil reached 115,228 on Wednesday, a record for the number of COVID-19 cases recorded in a single day in the South American country. 

The country’s health ministry reported the additional cases on Wednesday just as continuously delayed vaccine distribution now appears to be getting underway. 

According to data compiled by Reuters, Brazil now leads the world for the highest seven-day average of new COVID-19 infections and fatalities, surpassing India last week. 

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In terms of total infections, Brazil comes in third behind the U.S. and India, with around 18 million cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University

However, Brazil has outpaced India in total deaths, with more than 507,000 total fatalities in the South American country compared to nearly 392,000 in India, which is also battling its own severe wave of coronavirus infections. 

While the U.S. and other wealthy countries have seen cases largely decline with more of their populations vaccinated against COVID-19, countries that have not have easily had access to doses or that have reported vaccine distribution problems are now seeing some of their worst outbreaks yet, especially with the rise of new variants. 

According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, just 12 percent of the nation's citizens have been fully vaccinated.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has faced protests and criticism within his country over his handling of the pandemic and the slow distribution of vaccines. 

A Brazilian Senate committee is investigating allegations of misconduct in the government’s response, particularly arguments that Bolsonaro did not respond to offers from Pfizer for its vaccine last year, instead making a deal to receive the more expensive inoculation from India's Bharat Biotech, Reuters reported. 

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Bolsonaro has downplayed the severity of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, calling it "little flu" and pushing drugs and treatments that have not been proven to be effective at preventing the virus. 

The president has also been fined by several local governments within the country for not following local mask mandates. 

He said earlier this month while speaking in Sao Paulo that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should not have to wear a mask. 

“Whoever is against this proposal is because they don’t believe in science, because if they are vaccinated, there is no way the virus can be transmitted,” he said at the time.