Even with the end of the pandemic, Covid will remain and should cause severe flu


Even with the end of the pandemic, Covid-19 will remain among us in endemic form. The disease will continue to be present, but without a significant increase in cases. Sars-CoV-2 will be another virus that causes severe flu.

The assessment is by surgeon Paulo Chapchap, who led a group of doctors and public health specialists at Todos pela Saúde, an Itaú-Unibanco initiative that invested more than R$1.2 billion in combating the pandemic and has now become the subject of a documentary .

Frustrations, difficulties, challenges, mistakes and successes of this work make up the film “SARS-CoV-2/O Tempo da Pandemic”, directed by Eduardo Escorel and Lauro Escorel. The feature will premiere on the 30th, at Cinesesc, during the Mostra Internacional de Cinema in São Paulo.

The group, made up of Drauzio Varella, Eugênio Vilaça, Gonzalo Vecina Neto, Maurício Ceschin, Pedro Barbosa and Sidney Klajner, met daily in 2020 to decide the most urgent measures to be taken during the health crisis.

Among the numerous fronts, information campaigns were carried out, the purchase of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), respirators and other hospital equipment, oximeters for basic health units, serological tests, in addition to training professionals.

“There is no public health without informing people of what they have to do and what their rights are. Look for advertisements from the State [sobre medidas preventivas], it does not have. An important part of the resources [da iniciativa] went to the pillar of informing”, says the sanitary doctor Gonzalo Vecina Neto.

Watch the trailer:

“It seemed that [as autoridades federais] were paddling against. You campaign extensively for physical distancing and wearing masks, and our authorities gather, crowd together and don’t wear masks, they say this is nonsense,” recalls Chapchap about denial practices led by (non-party) president Jair Bolsonaro.

The same frustration, according to him, occurred in relation to early treatment with drugs that were ineffective for Covid, rejected by the group, but encouraged by Planalto.

At the beginning, there was no information or what was missing, recalls Maurício Ceschin, former president of the ANS (National Supplementary Health Agency). “There was already an avalanche of patients arriving at the services and we didn’t have a picture. There was a lack of ICU beds, a monitor, a glove. How much was missing? Where was it? We didn’t have this information, the Ministry didn’t have it, nobody had it.”

The group sent teams to every state in the country and within a month had set up crisis offices in all of them. In 186 reference hospitals in Covid, professionals allocated by the initiative started to guide local teams on the flow of patients, the identification of severe cases and the best protocols.

“It’s one thing to manage in good times, the other is to manage when in your hospital you have 15 ambulances and you don’t have a vacant bed for admission”, comments Eugênio Vilaça, public health consultant.

Nurse Verlaine Alencar, health administrator at Hospital Sírio-Libanês, was one of those who traveled to Manaus (AM) at the height of the deaths to help manage the crisis. “Despite the family’s fight [que temia por sua segurança], from fear, I said ‘I will’. There was a lack of beds, Samu was standing at the door without the staff being able to receive the patient, people dying in a very complicated situation”, he recalls.

The group also worked in several long-stay institutions for the elderly, performing Covid tests on residents and professionals, and implementing more adequate care protocols. Video calls between the elderly and their families, in addition to pampering such as battery radios, were also provided.

Some of the group’s actions, however, were not as effective in practice. One example was the transformation of schools into housing to house infected people who were unable to maintain isolation because they live in precarious housing with many people in the same room.

“It was a failure. People don’t want to be isolated, they want to be together with the family. Women with children, if they go to a shelter, who cooks for them, who takes care of them? It went wrong, it didn’t work, we spend money for nothing” , says oncologist Drauzio Varella, columnist for sheet.

Through statements from the management group and reports from seven frontline professionals, the viewer relives the most critical moments of the pandemic, such as the exhaustion of intensive care beds in Manaus (AM).

“It was very traumatic. I arrived in a sector and there were 20, 30 patients with an indication for the ICU. The way was to choose those most likely to survive. We hospitalized people in wheelchairs, on stretchers on the floor”, recalls intensive care physician Marcelo Ferreira, coordinator of the ICU at Hospital Dr. João Lúcio.

Many of the testimonials are emotionally charged. “I had deaths close to friends that hurt me a lot because they could be avoided [com decisões corretas dos governos]. What bothers me is the unnecessary death,” says Ceschin, with teary eyes and a choked voice.

Pedro Barbosa, director-president of the Institute of Molecular Biology of Paraná, was also moved by the memories. “The feeling of impotence is very bad. It’s a mixture of sadness and anger. It’s a pain to see so much denial and barbarism happening.”

In October last year, with resources practically exhausted, the group began to be demobilized and was surprised by the second wave of the pandemic, with Manaus once again experiencing a very critical situation, aggravated by lack of oxygen.

“Did that happen to a population where 76% of people had already had contact or infection with Covid a year before? I felt a little bit in the middle of the Groundhog Day movie [Feitiço do Tempo, 1993] where everything happens again. But in a situation where human resources are close to exhaustion”, comments Sidney Klajner, president of the Albert Einstein Hospital and also a columnist for the sheet.

For specialists, Brazil lost the war to fight the pandemic. “It might have been different if the federal authority had understood the various degrees of suffering, social, economic, educational. We saw entire families being decimated,” says Chapchap.

Eugênio Vilaça says he is still impacted by all the misfortune caused by the pandemic, but optimistic about the future. “I’m hopeful that retrovirals will emerge, better vaccines, more timely, mega-platforms of tests, we’ll live with this better. We live with the flu.”

The group is unanimous in pointing out that the pandemic showed that the SUS is fundamental, that without it, the fight against the pandemic would have been greater chaos and that investing more resources in the public health system is the best way to distribute income and reduce social differences.

“What kills is not the virus, it is inequality. Black people who die five times more than white people die because they have to look for food, because there is no food at home, and not because of the virus,” says Vecina Neto . “We need to understand that social inequality is not a final destination for Brazil”, adds Drauzio Varella.

“The other person’s problem is our problem. If we don’t act as an organized society, rescue these communities from trafficking, crime, militias, the State recognizes these people and act, this pandemic will not serve as a lesson for anything”, sums up Ceschin .

Documentary sessions at the São Paulo International Film Festival

October 30 at 8:15 pm at CineSesc

October 31st at 2 pm in Room 1 of the Cultural Reserve

November 2nd at 4 pm at the SPCCine Paulo Emílio Circuit, of the CCSP

November 2nd free screening at 7pm, available for four hours Itaú Cultural Play



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