A BRAZILIAN doctor has compared fighting the country's Covid explosion to "flogging a dead horse".
The Amazon variant of the virus is killing 100 people an hour as infections skyrocket and hospitals face collapse.
At the end of 2020, anti-mask president Jair Bolsonaro said the country had reached "the tail end" of one of the world's most deadly outbreaks.
But three months later and the country has recorded almost 100,000 more deaths.
Brazil's death toll has surpassed 275,000, with only the United States recording more.
And on Wednesday this week the country saw a record 2,349 daily deaths – meaning nearly 100 people an hour are dying from coronavirus in Brazil.
According to World Health Organization stats, 7,413 Covid deaths were recorded worldwide on Wednesday – meaning Brazil recorded 31 per cent of all deaths.
The record number of fatalities comes as hospitals are on the brink of collapse as the mutant P1 strain causes a second wave much deadlier than the first.
Infectious disease specialist André Machado, from the Our Lady of the Conception hospital in Porto Alegre, said his team is struggling to keep up with the tripling admissions, The Guardian reports.
He said: "We’re trying to help people but this disease is much faster and more aggressive than the tactics we’ve been using.
"It’s like we’re flogging a dead horse. This disease is going to kill many more people in Brazil."
Frontline health workers in the coastal city of Recife are seeing intensive care units and cemeteries fill up like never before.
Infectologist Eduarda Santa Rosa Barata, 31, who works in three ICUs in the north-eastern capital of Pernambuco state, said: "It feels like we’re putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.
"We’re engaged in damage reduction. You open new beds and they fill up immediately."
Machado blames Bolsonaro and young people for failing to social distance. but above all the P1 variant of the virus – thought to be much more contagious.
He said: "This isn’t just theoretical. It’s something we’re seeing in practice."
P1 has been detected in at least 27 other countries including the UK and US, although only in small numbers so far.
It emerged in Manaus in December, and swept through the Amazon jungle city – and a study showed it can reinfect 60 per cent of sufferers by dodging the body's immune response.
This week it was reported the health system in São Paulo could collapse in just 25 days if Covid hospitalisations continue to soar at the current rate.
The state has reached more than 80 per cent capacity in intensive care units and has declared a red alert.
São Paulo governor João Doria said: "This new strain of the virus is very aggressive and very dangerous."
But Bolsonaro told people to "stop whining", adding: "How long are you going to keep crying about it?"
Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva blasted Bolsonaro's "moronic" and "uncivilised" handling of the crisis.
He said: "This country is in a state of utter tumult and confusion because there’s no government.
"I’ll repeat that: this country has no government. So, so many lives could have been saved."
Gulnar Azevedo, president of the Brazilian Association of Public Health, said the soaring numbers reflect the "failure" of the federal government's response to the pandemic, according to O Globo.
The organisation has called for a two-week lockdown to curb the rampant spread of the virus.
"Brazil was not supposed to be in this situation," Azevedo said.
"This number of deaths is unacceptable We have been warning for a long time about the growth of this."
Brazil's unchecked Covid explosion is a "threat to humanity" and could scupper hopes of bringing the pandemic under control, experts warn.
Experts say the situation is a "disaster" – not just for Brazil but for the whole world.
They warn the lack of effective controls in Brazil makes it a "human laboratory" for new mutations to emerge and spread.
"This information is an atomic bomb," Dr Roberto Kraenkel of the Covid-19 Brazil Observatory told the Washington Post.
"I’m surprised by the levels found. The media isn't getting what this means.
"All of the variants of concern are more transmissible…and this means an accelerated phase of the epidemic. A disaster."
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