Jun 3, 2021 - World

Fútbol thrives as COVID-19 ravages South America

A Peruvian COVID victim is buried in Lima, June 1.

A Peruvian COVID victim is buried in Lima, June 1. Peru is running out of cemetery space. Photo: Angela Ponce/Getty Images

Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Peru currently have some of the highest coronavirus infection and death rates per capita in the world.

Why it matters: Vaccine access has been uneven in the region, which has mostly depended on Russian and Chinese vaccines. Just under 20% of the area’s population has been immunized.

  • Officials also acknowledge a lack of PCR tests and an undercount of COVID-related deaths.
  • Economic circumstances, like living day to day and a lack of stimulus checks like those in the U.S., have meant many Latin Americans must still leave home to work.

Between the lines: Despite the high number of COVID cases, Brazil is set to host the Copa América tournament in two weeks.

  • “I regret the deaths, but we have to live,” said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, about hosting the tournament.
  • Brazil is averaging around 2,000 lives lost to coronavirus daily. The variants first detected in Brazil, now named Gamma and Zeta, have torn through South America.

Driving the news: Peru revised its fatality figures upward this week, almost tripling the previous number. It now has the highest global per capita death rate.

  • The country will hold presidential elections this Sunday; candidates are neck and neck in polls.
  • Coronavirus has barely made a blip in the campaigns, which are more focused on socioeconomic inequalities and corruption.

Go deeper: Latin America turns to China and Russia for COVID-19 vaccines

Go deeper