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On Wednesday this week, Paraguay registered 18.09 deaths per million, compared with 2.71 in India, 2.2 in South Africa, 1.01 in the US, and 0.14 in the UK. And as the US and Europe begin to emerge from the pandemic, discard their masks and ponder how best to spend the recovery funds, the crisis most evident in Paraguay is playing out across much of South America.

India may have commanded much of the world’s attention over recent weeks, but Paraguay, Suriname, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil and Peru are suffering – in that order – a silent decimation by Covid unlike that anywhere else in the world. Even in seventh-placed Peru, the number of deaths per million stands at 9.12 – more than three times the figure in India.

In the early months of the pandemic, Paraguay and nearby Uruguay were praised as Latin America’s standout success stories in Covid management.

But since March the two countries have seen an explosion of the disease, largely attributed to the aggressive Brazilian variant that has torn through much of South America, and to decreased compliance with social distancing measures.

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