Amidst the increase in cases, Brazilians lose their fear of Covid, Datafolha points outEnglish 

Amidst the increase in cases, Brazilians lose their fear of Covid, Datafolha points out

The peak of fear about Covid occurred in March last year, when 55% of respondents said they were very scared.

Claudia Collucci
Sao Paulo-SP

At a time when the country is seeing an increase in cases and hospitalizations for Covid-19 and the state of São Paulo has once again recommended the use of masks indoors, Brazilians are losing their fear of being infected with the coronavirus, according to research. Data sheet.

The percentage of respondents who say they are very afraid of infection is 37%, the lowest since April 2020. On the other hand, 29% say they are not afraid of infection. It is the highest rate recorded since the onset of the pandemic.

The peak of fear for Covid occurred in March last year, when 55% of respondents said they were very scared. At that time, ICUs all over Brazil collapsed.

The Datafolha survey was conducted on 25 and 26 May. A total of 2,556 persons aged 16 and over were interviewed in 181 municipalities. The margin of error is two points up or down.

This Tuesday (31), the moving average of Sars-CoV-2 infections jumped by 48%, compared to data from two weeks ago and reached 26,206 infected people per day. The country has lost 666,727 lives and 31,016,354 people infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

As a reflection of the high number of cases, there has also been an increase in hospitalizations. According to the SP Covid-19 Info Tracker platform, from USP and Unesp, the moving average of new hospital admissions (ICU and ward) increased by 74% in the state of São Paulo in three weeks.


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The São Paulo state coronavirus scientific committee again recommended this Tuesday (31) that municipalities instruct the use of masks indoors to prevent Covid from spreading. The measure is not mandatory and does not modify current legislation, which defines its use only in hospital facilities and in public transport.

For epidemiologist Ethel Maciel, a professor at Ufes (Federal University of Espírito Santo), at this time of acceleration of cases and the country facing difficulties in completing the recommended vaccination cycles, the use of indoor masks should become mandatory through decrees. “Managers do not want to face the situation,” he said.

Pediatrician Renato Kfouri, director of the Brazilian Immunization Association (SBIm) and who is part of the technical room advising the Ministry of Health on immunizations, on the other hand, argues that, at the moment, it is not necessary to force the use of masks.

“In the same way that we facilitated the measures, it made it possible to remove the masks when the virus was low, now that it is growing, it takes a step back and instructs it to use it. Implementation requires inspection and does not end there. You have to migrate to a model of education, orientation. ”


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According to Datafolha, fears about Covid-19 vary widely between regions. The Northeast focuses on the highest percentage of people who are most afraid of climbing (44%), followed by Central-West (39%), Southeast (36%), North (32%) and South (27%).

For Ethel Maciel, an important point in this decline in risk perception was the advent of vaccines. “Before, people did not know what could happen if they became infected. With declining hospitalizations and deaths, hospitalizations began to focus on weakened and aging immunity groups. “Perhaps the fear remains with the elderly and, as a result, this group continues to take better care of themselves.”

People in their 60s are the ones who are most afraid of coronavirus infection, according to Datafolha: 44% of them say they are still very afraid of infection, compared to 30% in the 25- to 34-year-old age group.

In general, women are more afraid of Covid than men (40% vs. 33%). People with a lower (basic) level of education and a monthly income of up to two minimum wages are also those who are most afraid of the coronavirus, with 44% and 41%, respectively.


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There is a minority group of respondents, who ranged between 2% and 7% during recent polls, who responded that they had already caught Covid. However, it should be remembered that the fact that you are already infected does not eliminate the possibility of becoming infected again.

According to Kfour, reducing risk perception is the major challenge of immunizations in general. That is, convincing people to get vaccinated when they are no longer afraid of preventable infections. “It’s one of the factors that explains the lower adherence of children to the Covid vaccine. She arrived for this group in a moment of calm, completely different from what she arrived for the elderly and adults. “

The analysis by the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo with data from the Ministry of Health and the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) shows that the country registers a scenario of stagnation of vaccination against Covid-19 in all age groups. There are difficulties in completing the recommended cycles, with stagnant infant coverage, low boosters in the young, and only 10% of the elderly with the fourth dose.


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For Kfourin, if the trend of increasing cases with Covid continues, there is a possibility that in the coming weeks there will be an increase in demand for immunization. “People feel more threatened and come back in search of vaccines.”


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Sanitary doctor Claudio Maierovitch, from Fiocruz Brasília, says that, after the scary periods experienced in the last two years, it is natural for people to be more relieved. However, he warns that there is a deliberate move to get everything back to normal quickly, even though the pandemic is still ongoing.

“It simply came to our notice then. [o que se via] by the president and several others. “Now the movement of those who are candidates for elections is to show that the countries they manage are good, that everything is fine there, they can remove the masks, the party, circulate freely because they have been able to bring normalcy.”

According to him, although the data show a moving average of more than a hundred deaths per day from Covid and an increase in cases and hospitalizations, this does not seem to have a major impact on most people because they are not living individual experience. from the most recent, serious events.

“It was a time when everyone had someone in the family hospitalized with Covid. Now everyone knows someone with Covid, but rarely see someone hospitalized and, much less often, die. If nothing happens to you, it happens because the problem does not exist. “Now it’s reasonable for the country to have more than 100 deaths a day, 10,000, 20,000 new cases a day.”

According to Datafolha, the perception that the pandemic is under control has remained in relation to the last survey, in March. In total, 71% consider it to be partially controlled, and 14%, completely.

Men are more optimistic about pandemic control. For 17% of them, the health crisis is completely under control, versus 11% of women. The percentage of those who see the situation out of control (14%) remains the same. In May 2021, this rate was 53%.

For Ethel Maciel, the perception that the pandemic is under control was endorsed by the repeal of decrees requiring the use of masks, symbols of the pandemic. “The message that remained for the population was, ‘if you can remove the mask, it’s because the pandemic is over.’

According to her, the measure should be accompanied by information to alert the population so that in the face of a new level of cases, the use of the article resumes. “Now the numbers are rising, some states have more than 40% positive tests and managers claim nothing is happening.”

According to Maciel, the country is also not facing long-term Covid, a group of symptoms that persist after months of coronavirus infection. “Tall Covid can affect people who have had a mild infection. “It is a priority for us to minimize transmission so that the person is less likely to develop long-term Covid.”

Datafolha also asked if the interviewees had already been vaccinated: 96% answered yes, with at least one dose, 30% with two doses and 55% with the third dose (first booster).

As of May 30, data in the SI-PNI (National Immunization Program Information System / Ministry of Health), with population estimates from IBGE, show that coverage of Covid vaccination among Brazilians aged 16 or older was 91 % with the first dose, 88% with the primary regimen (two doses or a single dose of Janssen) and 53% with the third dose (first booster).

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