As COVID-19 patients flooded Rio de Janeiro’s public health system from early April to late May, Dr. Pedro Archer found himself making gut-wrenching decisions.
People struggling to breathe needed ventilators, he said, but there weren’t enough to go around; those with a slim chance of recovery were passed over.
Some of those deaths, state and federal prosecutors now say, may have been avoidable. They allege that top officials here sought to pocket up to 400 million reais ($72.2 million) via corruption schemes that steered inflated state contracts to allies during the pandemic. The deals, they said, included three contracts for 1,000 ventilators, most of which never arrived.
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