“Data blackout” harms actions to fight the pandemic, says Fiocruz

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The instability of data from Health platforms has left science in the dark and is preventing the adoption of adequate measures to fight the pandemic. This is what alerts the new Covid-19 Fiocruz Observatory Bulletin, released this Thursday (23), noting that the lack of information brings “exponential inaccuracies” in decision-making that, according to the bulletin’s researchers, are and should be taken on the basis of evidence.

According to an excerpt from the published study, “information is fundamental for national sovereignty and crucial to point out guidelines for combating Covid-19”.

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For researchers, the vulnerability of information systems is one of the challenges in facing the pandemic this year and next. According to the bulletin, the data in these systems “constitute a public good and a patrimony of Brazilian society, as recommended by the Health Reform”. For Fiocruz’s scientists, the failures that occurred are not justified only by the hacker attack suffered by the Ministry of Health’s websites, but they go further.

“These failures in disclosing data about the pandemic combine vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the entire process, which begins with filling out forms in health facilities and municipalities. Furthermore, delays or interruptions in data dissemination impede the production of information that is vital for decision-making,” the researchers wrote.

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The Bulletin warns that this instability in the Ministry of Health’s system can make the numbers about the disease not real.

“In the last two months, from October to November, an average of 10,200 cases and 260 deaths per day were registered. However, in the last two Epidemiological Weeks (SE) 49 and 50 (December 5th to 18th), there was a greater fluctuation in the number of cases and deaths, which is partly due to problems in the data flow throughout the SUS care and surveillance network”, indicated the researchers in the text of the bulletin, also emphasizing that “the observed drop in the number of registered cases (5% per day) is incompatible with the dynamics of disease transmission”.

Scientists reinforced the argument by pointing to the sharp increase in the fatality rate, which jumped from 2.5% to 4.2%. According to them, this indicates that there has been a large underreporting of most cases in recent weeks.

For researcher Christovam Barcellos, from the Fiocruz Covid-19 Observatory, despite the improvement in the pandemic rates, the country is still facing a real threat and this “blackout” is something very serious.

“We need to remember that we are still under threat from the spread of this Ômicron variant, in the midst of a terrible data blackout, that neither health professionals nor citizens can have access to numbers on the incidence of the virus, vaccination, tests carried out… That does not place you in a dark region. We need to decide what to do in the summer. There will be a party, won’t there be a party? Everyone has to be very aware of their situation. But without this information, we could have a serious problem and, with that, have a new increase in the indicators of the pandemic. It’s something very serious”, he warned.

Other challenges highlighted in the bulletin

The researchers also cite the emergence of new variants that could lead the country to “unexpected and undesirable scenarios”. The biggest concern at the moment is in relation to the propagation and behavior of Ômicron. According to the researchers, with the arrival of the holiday season, the consequent increase in circulation can result in a new increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, which can lead to crises and collapse of the health system, as was the case at the end of the last year when the Gamma variant was identified.

Therefore, Christovam Barcellos reinforced the need to continue advancing with immunization, including in children, and warned of the simultaneous circulation of different viruses.

“Now is a time of transition. Vaccinations are on the rise, but it is still important to reach at least 80% of the entire vaccinated population. It is necessary to move forward with vaccination in children and apply booster doses, especially in the elderly. Now is also a time when there is simultaneous circulation of Covid-19 and common colds that have very severe symptoms. There needs to be greater testing of those with symptoms”, he commented.

The researcher also said that the prospects for 2022 are positive, but that summer will be a key moment for the population to know what to really expect during the course of the year.

“Summer will be a big test. If we manage to do well this season, I think we are going to teach the world a great lesson in containing the pandemic and we will have good news for 2022. But if there is no increase in vaccination coverage, there will be a greater relaxation of containment measures and the health system is not prepared to carry out the necessary tests and receive patients, we could have another tragedy next year”, pointed out Barcellos.

Finally, the bulletin’s researchers pointed out the challenges related to the “politicization process of measures to fight the pandemic to protect the health and life of the Brazilian population”. The researchers understand that this process is due to the devaluation of fundamental measures to combat Covid-19 and the dissemination of fake news, which lead to “the creation of a climate of discredit and distrust in relation to vaccines”.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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