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Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Initially hailed as a savior of Brazil's economy as stock prices climbed to record highs after his election, President Jair Bolsonaro now has the country's markets on a crash course.

What's happening: Brazil's benchmark stock index has been one of the world's worst performers, down by nearly 30% in its local currency so far this year, and lower by 46% in U.S. dollar terms.

  • The country's real currency also has been among the world's weakest assets, down by around 25% against the dollar year to date.
  • In the first quarter, Brazil's stock market declined by 51% with its currency losing 37%, the steepest fall since 1994.

One level deeper: Brazil's economy is falling apart as it has become the Latin American epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and Bolsonaro dismisses the pandemic as a "fantasy" or "a little flu."

  • The president also has fired or alienated powerful allies, including his most popular cabinet member, former Judge Sérgio Moro, who resigned on national television Friday while accusing the president of trying to tamper with ongoing police investigations.
  • The country's federal police are investigating two of his sons.

The state of play: Citing more widespread and lasting damage from the coronavirus outbreak, economists at Citi now expect "the worst annual contraction ever" this year for Brazil's economy, predicting a decline of 4.5%, versus an earlier forecast of a 1.7% decline.

Go deeper: Brazil and Ecuador emerge as Latin America's coronavirus epicenters

Go deeper

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Surgeon General Jerome Adams the American Red Cross National Headquarters on July 30. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Friday stressed the importance of Americans getting flu vaccines for the next influenza season, noting that the country has "been backsliding in terms of vaccine confidence over the last several years."

Why it matters: A bad flu season could put even more strain on the country's health system resources, which are especially limited in domestic coronavirus epicenters like Florida and California.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

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The big picture: World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference as the world approached the milestone that 750,000 deaths were set to be recorded this week. "Every life lost matters," he said. "But I want to be clear: there are green shoots of hope and... it's never too late to turn the outbreak around."

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Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases

A health worker in Nigeria checks students' temperatures on August 4. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekepei/AFP via Getty Images

African countries collectively surpassed 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases this week, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: Some health experts believe that the true number of COVID-19 cases among African countries is higher than that figure due to a lack of testing, and fear that undetected cases could overload some of the world’s weakest health systems, according to AP.