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Brazil Nears 180,000 Deaths in Second Coronavirus Wave

Medical workers in protective clothing treat a COVID-19 patient at the intensive care unit in the public Oceanico hospital, in Niteroi, Brazil, Dec. 11, 2020.

Brazil, which is second to the U.S. in deaths from COVID-19 and third in the world in positive cases, is approaching 180,000 deaths as it suffers through its second wave of the disease caused by the coronavirus.

In the past day, more than 53,000 cases and 770 deaths have been reported, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Since the start of the pandemic, Brazil has recorded more than 6.7 million cases.

Brazil, with a population of 212 million, is entering its summer, when beaches fill with weekend crowds.

"The situation is likely to worsen with the summer, because people will move around more, without any control, most of the restriction measures having already been lifted," Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at the Fiocruz institute, told AFP.

The coronavirus crisis in the U.S. continued to intensify Friday, as more than 2,700 people died of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins data, down from the record toll of 3,124 set Wednesday. The country’s deaths now stand at more than 292,000, the most in the world.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Friday the emergency use of a vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.

An FDA advisory panel voted to recommend approval of the vaccine late Thursday.

And the U.S. purchased 100 million more doses of another vaccine, one by Moderna. Friday’s agreement brings the number of Moderna doses to 200 million, enough shots for 100 million people. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots.

"Securing another 100 million doses from Moderna by June 2021 further expands our supply of doses across the Operation Warp Speed portfolio of vaccines," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

With the U.S. on the verge of its inoculation program, human rights group Amnesty International’s director of economic and social justice issued a warning. Steve Cockburn told The New York Times, “Rich countries have clear human rights obligations not only to refrain from actions that could harm access to vaccines elsewhere, but also to cooperate and provide assistance to countries that need it.”

The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said Friday night there are 70 million coronavirus infections worldwide, with nearly 1.6 million deaths.

The U.S. continues to lead the world in the number of cases with more than 15.8 million infections, followed by India with almost 9.8 million and Brazil with nearly 6.8 million.