INTRODUCTION – The COVID-19 pandemic has grown exponentially in the Developing World. Until the end of August 2020, Brazil ranked second in the number of COVID-19 cases and the death toll, lagging behind the United States. Brazil turned in 2020 not only a worldwide epicenter of COVID-19 but also of deforestation. While the negative externalities of deforestation are well documented in the literature, less is known about how deforestation can affect the transmission of COVID-19 to vulnerable ethnic groups, such as the indigenous peoples, enlarging existing income and racial inequality gaps.

Brazil had more than 3.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases 120 thousand deaths by the end of August 2020. It represents 15.1% of the confirmed cases in the world, and 14.3% of the total deaths reported. At the same time, deforestation has increased by 25% from January-June 2020 (3.070 km2) in comparison to the same period in 2019. 55% of the deforested lands this year have been also burned (Moutinho et al. (2020)). On top of it, deforestation had dramatically expanded in indigenous lands, the de facto forest’s main guardian (Laudares (2016), Baragwanath and Bayi (2020)), while coronavirus infected more than 20 thousand and victimized more than 800 indigenous people.

This paper asks whether deforestation has been a key driver in the COVID-19 transmission to indigenous peoples. It also focuses on exploring the channels through which deforestation may affect the spread of the disease to this ethnic group relative to the others.

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